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T-mobile to offer cellular service in San Juan County

Rock Island will deliver on its promise to bring wireless services to both home and business users in San Juan County via LTE Fixed Wireless by working with T-Mobile USA, Inc.

“This is a win-win collaboration. We gain the ability to provide fixed LTE to our customers and T-Mobile customers now get expanded 4G LTE service in San Juan County. For the first time, we will now have true, contiguous cellular coverage in this rural island community,” says Gerry Lawlor, EVP of Rock Island.

T-Mobile brings their extensive design and engineering experience to the effort, as well as core and radio networks, equipment, maintenance and support while OPALCO/Rock Island provides the installation services, power and fiber infrastructure. Both parties are bringing wireless spectrum to collectively expand wireless capability to islanders. There is no financial exchange in this agreement.

“Bellevue-based T-Mobile is rapidly expanding its wireless network, more than doubling its LTE coverage in the past year. As a part of its coverage expansion, T-Mobile launched Extended Range LTE, using the same type of 700 MHz spectrum that OPALCO purchased in 2014. T-Mobile’s experience and proven track record substantially reduce the risk for Rock Island’s start-up operations, and provide the ability to get to market with superior fixed LTE wireless services,” says Foster Hildreth, General Manager of both OPALCO and Rock Island. “Rock Island will dramatically improve communications for first responders resulting in better public safety county-wide. This will be equally beneficial for people dialing into 911.

The LTE network build out has already begun and service will be robust by the end of the year. “Customers who have expressed interest in receiving fixed LTE wireless service will be contacted as their area comes online,” says Lawlor. “Please be patient with us as we deploy throughout the community. Rock Island’s fixed LTE service is designed to serve the further reaches of the community. Those where fiber deployment costs are excessive will be given priority.”

LTE Wireless

LTE wireless products are not a fiber replacement. Fiber connections will always be Rock Island’s first market priority as fiber to the home provides the greatest capacity and scale for long-term use. LTE Fixed wireless is best suited to serve customers in isolated areas and where fiber installation is not feasible.

“Only a co-op could broker this kind of agreement,” said Hildreth. “We have the spectrum and infrastructure, T-Mobile has the equipment and expertise. When we merge interests, the co-op membership is the big winner as truly excellent services transform our quality of life in San Juan County.”

Rock Island stores in Eastsound and Friday will serve as local retail outlets for T-Mobile wireless sales beginning this spring.

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