Dish launches fixed TD-LTE service with Sprint in Corpus Christi, offering 10 Mbps for $30/month with TV

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) launched fixed TD-LTE service in Corpus Christi, Texas, using Sprint's (NYSE: S) 2.5 GHz network and spectrum.

Dish's fixed wireless service relies on an outdoor router, right, that can work alongside Dish's satellite for TV service, left.

The companies first announced in December 2013 that they would partner on the pilot program in Corpus Christi. Dish had said in early August that it expected the Sprint trial to start within a month. Dish is also engaged in a similar pilot program with Sprint network partner nTelos Wireless using fixed 2.5 GHz TD-LTE service in Virginia. The trials are targeted at unserved and underserved consumers, especially those with slow or no Internet access.

Dish said the Internet service in Corpus Christi will deliver download speeds of 10 Mbps, and is available for $30 per month when bundled with a qualifying package of Dish's satellite TV service, or $40 as standalone service.

Dish said its technicians will install ruggedized outdoor BandRich routers with high-gain antennas to support the service, just like they install outdoor satellite dishes for Dish TV, according to David Zufall, Dish's vice president of wireless. Dish is also offering customers the option to get a free Wi-Fi router at installation.

Zufall told FierceWireless Dish had been waiting for Sprint to deploy 2.5 GHz equipment in Corpus Christi. "They stood up a number of sites for us for the fixed wireless trial," he said, adding that the coverage covers the city's metropolitan area.

Sprint has said its mobile 2.5 GHz TD-LTE service can deliver peak downlink speeds of 50-60 Mbps. The company expects to cover 100 million POPs with 2.5 GHz LTE by year-end.

"The primary objective of these trials is to test the business model, i.e. how many customers can you adequately support in how much spectrum depth," Tom Cullen, Dish's executive vice president of corporate development, said during the company's second-quarter earnings call in early August, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "Will the model work at 20 megahertz, or does it require 40, or does it require 60? As we've discussed in the past, the demand on spectrum is going to be different, obviously, for mobility in urban areas versus where you may have more spectrum depth in rural areas, you may have excess capacity that you could dedicate to fixed broadband."

Cullen added that Dish believes that "with outdoor antennas on the rooftop, you're going to get better cell radius, the ability to provide more customer coverage off of a single tower, and those are the things that we hope to learn and better define in terms of consumer consumption patterns over the next three to six months."

Zufall said Dish will be assessing its ability to compete in the broadband market. "The fundamental product we think is sound," he said. "The coverage is good. We can get to many, many houses within the coverage area."

Zufall said Dish will be looking at usage patterns among customers and seeing what the "cost structure to increase capacity" on the network would be. He also said Dish will be looking at more straightforward business metrics, such as how easily the company can switch customers from other broadband providers.

It's unclear if Dish will expand its trial with Sprint beyond Corpus Christi. Zufall said Dish has not announced any future plans.

In late July nTelos CFO Steb Chandor said the company was making "good progress on our pilot program" with Dish. The carriers are partnering on a fixed TD-LTE service using 2.5 GHz spectrum. On July 16, the companies started to offer high-speed wireless Internet service to select customers in Charlottesville, Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg and Roanoke, Va. The service provides speeds of more than 10 Mbps, Chandor said, and costs $30 per month when bundled with a qualified Dish satellite TV service plan. "So far feedback has been positive, but it's important to understand that this Phase 2 trial is in its very early stages," he said.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Dish site

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