Alaska Communications has launched LTE in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, a service that will eventually become part of a statewide network operated together with General Communications.
Alaska Communications’ LTE coverage is still fairly limited, with service concentrated around Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
“We’ve seen the demand for mobile broadband grow dramatically,” said Mike Todd, Alaska Communications’ senior vice president of technology services.
The operator did not provide details about additional LTE coverage beyond its current footprint, but it did say it plans to “add coverage and expand our network” in unspecified markets.
Three LTE smartphones and one wireless router are currently being offered with the service: the HTC OneX, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones and the Bandrich 4G LTE router.
Alaska Communications also operates a CDMA/EVDO network and markets some of those legacy services as 4G in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Homer, Kenai, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna, Wasilla and Whittier.
The new LTE network is slated to be combined with GCI’s HSPA+, GSM/Edge and Wi-Fi offerings into a jointly owned venture, the Alaska Wireless Network. The service is aimed at helping the two operators better compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
AT&T rolled out its LTE network in Anchorage in September. Verizon has yet to launch service in the state, but its pending entry into the Alaska market through a partnership with Matanuska Telephone Association could be a major competitive threat to Alaska Communications and GCI.
The transaction must pass FCC approval before the companies can move forward. The plan ran into a hurdle last week when the FCC stalled its review after the operators failed to submit additional documentation by an Oct. 25 deadline.