Mediacom taps Tarana for FWA-based RDOF buildout

Mediacom is deploying Tarana's fixed wireless access platform on CBRS spectrum to help the cable operator fulfill its RDOF commitments in parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

April 10, 2024

3 Min Read
Mediacom rural tower that with Tarana FWA equipment
(Source: Mediacom and Tarana Wireless)

Mediacom Communications said it will use fixed wireless access (FWA) gear from Tarana Wireless to help the operator fulfill its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) buildout commitments in parts of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

Mediacom confirmed that its RDOF buildout in those locations will deliver services on CBRS spectrum. Mediacom spent about $29.47 million for 576 CBRS licenses, and was awarded about $2.25 million in the phase I RDOF auction to bring broadband to roughly 9,700 locations. A Mediacom official confirmed that all of its RDOF areas will be constructed using fixed wireless technology, as the company did not bid on any fiber locations via the program.

Mediacom will use Tarana's next-gen FWA "G1" platform. The companies noted that tests of the platform "far exceeded" the 100 Mbit/s downstream by 20 Mbit/s upload performance required by the RDOF program.

Mediacom, the official added, expects to have several towers in Alabama come online in the next few weeks, and plans to deploy additional towers in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina throughout the rest of 2024.

Mediacom noted that this RDOF-focused deployment with Tarana is an extension of Mediacom Bolt, an FWA product that the operator introduced about three years ago via a set of vendor partners – Ericsson, Samsung and Casa Systems, which has kicked off a court-supervised Chapter 11 process that includes the proposed sale of its 5G core/RAN and cable access divisions.

Related:Mediacom adds Samsung to the fixed wireless mix

Mediacom has launched Bolt in parts of Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Minnesota and Missouri, with plans to add North Carolina to the list later this year.

While Bolt delivers about 100 Mbit/s down by 10 Mbit/s up, the RDOF areas, supported by Tarana's platform, will deliver the faster upstream speeds required by the program.

Mediacom is also exploring a move into mobile.

Tarana Chairman and CEO Basil Alwan said the Mediacom RDOF deployment fits with its focus on licensed and unlicensed spectrum in the 2GHz-7GHz arena.

"CBRS is great spectrum for us," Alwan said, noting that about 40% of Tarana's business stems from various government-backed projects focused on unserved and underserved areas, including RDOF, the Connect America Fund (CAF) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Tarana, which built its ngFWA platform using custom RF and digital chips and the use of distributed massive MIMO, can also support RDOF's 1-Gig tier. "Multi-point midband is not typically capable of doing that. We can," Alwan said.

He said the company's technology, which also specializes in mitigating interference and using multi-path systems to ensure coverage in areas without direct line-of-sight to towers, has been useful in relatively rural and remote areas. But it's also gaining traction in denser, more urban areas as well, he said.

Related:Despite anti-FWA ads, Cox tests Tarana's fixed wireless gear

Tarana seeing rising interest from cable operators

Alwan noted that Tarana is also seeing a general "uptick in interest" from cable operators for network edge-outs and other applications such as the one Mediacom is using for RDOF.

Light Reading reported in November 2023 that Cox Communications is testing FWA in the Scottsdale, Arizona, area using equipment from Tarana in the recently freed 6GHz spectrum band.

Alwan believes that fixed wireless should no longer be considered a "stop-gap" for home broadband, but rather as a long-term infrastructure that's capable of delivering gigabit-plus speeds.

"Wireless can be a tool alongside fiber or if you have cable…to help expand [the network]," he said. "But it's not just a stop-gap."

Tarana raised an additional $50 million last fall led by Digital Alpha to help fuel its growth initiatives.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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