Affordable broadband access. What seems like an absolute to many Americans is in fact something that countless communities around the country struggle to obtain. In an era when high-speed data connectivity is essential, it is unimaginable that entire localities are without access to that lifeline or lack competitive, affordable options.
When the Broadband Incentives Program (BIP) was created under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, nTelos Wireless took the opportunity to apply for funding to upgrade portions of our network to 3G Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO) Rev A service. nTelos Wireless already provided high-speed mobile broadband in the majority of its service area. However, there are portions of our footprint that have not been upgraded from traditional 1X or 2G data speeds to 3G service. Those areas are in rural markets that are not economically feasible to upgrade to 3G service. 2G service, while functional, limits the customer to basic Internet browsing both on handsets and data cards used in laptop computers. File transfers and the audio/video streaming experience for these customers is poor and often impossible. With EVDO Rev A service, the speeds allow a full suite of Internet options previously reserved for wireline platforms. EVDO Rev A supports peak data rates of up to 3.1 Mbps in the forward link and 1.8 Mbps in the reverse link bringing mobile broadband to the subscriber’s phone or laptop. In addition, the portability of the service is an enormous advantage when compared to traditional wireline products.
The BIP grant allowed nTelos Wireless to upgrade one of those remaining rural markets to EVDO Rev A service in 2011. Fully completed as of September 30, 2011, the service area funded under the grant covers Berkeley County in West Virginia, Washington County in Maryland, and Franklin County in Pennsylvania. Upgrading the existing nTelos Wireless 2G network to high-speed mobile broadband in the funded service area means that those who live and work in the area are able to enjoy the benefits of enhanced broadband service at home and on the go. As of the end of December 2011, 1,559 customers in this rural area now enjoy nTelos’ 3G service, largely attributed to the BIP program. The number of customers subscribing to nTelos high-speed mobile broadband service in the funded area continues to grow each quarter.
The American Investment and Recovery Act of 2009 has five main purposes, all centered on making America and its citizens stronger. By investing in nTelos Wireless and helping our company upgrade existing 2G service to 3G, the ARRA has enhanced the lives of all who live and work in the funded service area. Congratulations on achieving your goal with respect to our project and thank you for assisting us with improving the livelihoods of so many.
NTELOS Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: NTLS), operating through its subsidiaries as “nTelos Wireless,” is headquartered in Waynesboro, VA, and provides high-speed, dependable nationwide voice and data coverage for over 400,000 retail subscribers based in Virginia, West Virginia and portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. nTelos’s licensed territories have a total population of approximately 8 million residents, of which its wireless network covers approximately 5.8 million residents. nTelos is also the exclusive wholesale provider of network services to Sprint Nextel in the western Virginia and West Virginia portions of its territories for all Sprint CDMA wireless customers. Additional information about NTELOS is available at www.ntelos.com or www.facebook.com/nteloswirelessand www.twitter.com/#!/ntelos_wireless.
Amber M. Benson led the Broadband Incentives Program high-speed mobile broadband upgrade project for West Virginia PCS Alliance LC and nTelos Wireless.