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Dish Joins With NTELOS on Fixed Wireless Offering

Dish Network said Friday that it will team with fixed wireless broadband service provider nTELOS to develop a high-speed data service spanning seven states from Pennsylvania from Kentucky.

The move comes about a year after Dish formed a similar alliance with ViaSat to provide a national fixed broadband service.  That product, dubbed DishNet, offers speeds up to 5 Mbps and coupled with an offering from independent telco CenturyLink, had about 66,000 subscribers a the end of the first quarter.

In a statement announcing the nTELOS agreement, Dish said the service would serve primarily underserved markets in nTELOS’ existing service territory in Virginia, West Virginia and portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky.

"We are pleased to team with nTelos on this exciting opportunity to leverage their mobile capabilities along with our technical service infrastructure to develop broadband services," Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement. "With users consuming more data, the demand for fast, reliable Internet service remains stronger than ever, particularly in rural areas where the FCC estimates nearly a fifth of American households lack broadband access. By working with nTelos, we believe we can create a service that simultaneously addresses the mobile and in-home requirements of rural residents, with the potential to serve as a model for how we can utilize spectrum more effectively while creating differentiated consumer offerings."

Dish has been aggressive in the wireless broadband space, spending about $3 billion in amassing wireless spectrum over the past few years and launching a $25.5 billion unsolicited bid to acquire wireless giant Sprint Nextel in April. Earlier this month, Ergen separately made a personal $2 billion bid for spectrum held by bankrupt ultra-high-speed data service provider LightSquared.

The nTELOS agreement appears to be another piece in Dish’s wireless puzzle. Based in Waynesboro, Va., nTELOS has about 451,000 customers in its seven-state territory, which have a total population of 7.9 million residents (its network can serve about 6 million of those people). In addition, nTELOS is the exclusive wholesale provider of wireless digital PCS services to Sprint in western Virginia and West Virginia for all Sprint CDMA wireless customers.

"Today's announcement demonstrates nTelos's commitment to finding new and innovative ways to serve our customers, while maximizing the value of our network assets to grow our business," said nTELOS CEO James Hyde in a statement.  "The convergence of fixed and mobile broadband networks holds tremendous promise for consumers and telecom service providers alike, allowing for an improved customer experience and new sources of incremental revenue. Our relationship with Dish puts us at the forefront of that convergence and creates an opportunity for nTelos to establish itself as a thought leader among wireless service providers."