Seeking to make up for lost ground with its larger wireless rivals, T-Mobile has signed up its first US LTE roaming partner, striking a deal with Alaskan cable and telecom provider General Communications Inc.
General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) announced the roaming pact with "a national wireless operator" on Thursday, without disclosing the carrier's name. A GCI spokesperson then confirmed a report in Multichannel News this morning that the deal is with T-Mobile US Inc.
GCI -- which is Alaska's biggest cable and telecom provider with 116,300 video and 115,600 broadband subscribers and 57,700 wireline voice and 143,400 wireless lines in service -- said the LTE roaming agreement will give its wireless subscribers "access to LTE from Fairbanks, Alaska to Miami, Florida." It did not disclose any financial terms of the deal.
A T-Mobile spokesperson also confirmed the roaming pact. A company spokesperson said T-Mobile is "looking forward to launching additional LTE roaming services with more of our roaming partners in the near future."
Indeed, the carrier, which has about 50.5 million wireless customers, has been making noises recently about catching up with such rivals as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). Speaking at a Fierce Wireless breakfast on LTE roaming earlier this month, Heather Stacey, director of business development for T-Mobile, said the company is working with a number of partners to enable LTE roaming and will complete several roaming deals by the end of the year.
Despite T-Mobile's support of band compatibility for devices, Stacey conceded that the company faces some challenging technology issues. She said it's much easier to work with GSM carriers that are existing T-Mobile roaming partners and upgrading to LTE because they're aligned in technology and principles. But she added that T-Mobile can also work with CDMA partners upgrading to LTE.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading