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Sprint, Dish To Trial Fixed Wireless Broadband

Dish Network and Sprint Corp. announced Tuesday plans to jointly develop and deploy a fixed wireless broadband service on a trial basis in Corpus Christi, Texas, beginning in mid-2014.  The companies said that initially the service will be available in select areas of Corpus Christi, expanding to other markets in the future.

Depending on a customer's location, Dish will install either a ruggedized outdoor router or an indoor solution to deliver the best possible broadband service to that site. Both solutions will feature built-in high-gain antennas to receive the 4G TDD-LTE signal on Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum.

"With millions underserved by inadequate broadband, the potential to bring a high-speed fixed wireless solution is very compelling to both Dish and Sprint," said Dish executive vice president of Corporate Development Tom Cullen in a statement. "We both bring distinct skills, not the least of which for Dish is a workforce of professional technicians who visit thousands of homes every day performing professional installations for both video and broadband."

The agreement seems to indicate that relations between the two companies are improving after Dish attempted to block Japanese software giant SoftBank’s $20 billion acquisition of the phone giant in April 2013. SoftBank won that at times contentious battle, acquiring an 80% stake in June.

The deal also seems to give some clarity to Dish’s wireless strategy – the company has spent about $3 billion on spectrum licenses and has said it would only build a network with a partner.

"This trial with Dish has great potential as it combines the key capabilities and assets of both companies to provide another option to customers with limited broadband access," Sprint senior vice president of Corporate and Business Development Michael Schwartz s aid in a statement. "This demonstrates Sprint's ongoing commitment to identify and develop new and innovative products and services that maximize the use and utility of our spectrum and flexible network infrastructure to the benefit of customers and shareholders."