T-Mobile has joined Sprint and a dozen small wireless operators in the CCA's Data Services Hub for data and voice roaming across rural America, almost a year and half after its launch.
The Competitive Carrier Association (CCA) announced the Data Services Hub with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as a tier-one partner in March 2014. Fellow CCA member T-Mobile US Inc. was expected to join shortly thereafter as the Hub would give it a relatively easy way to bring coverage to rural America -- where it lacks a strong presence -- through roaming partnerships. (See Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE and Big Fish in the CCA's Pond.)
T-Mobile has so far sat it out, however, choosing instead to push the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reserve more low-band spectrum for it to bid on in the upcoming auction. (See T-Mobile Puts Low-Band to Work and T-Mobile Takes Spectrum Fight to the People.)
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With today's announcement, it appears T-Mobile is looking for other ways to reach rural America. The carrier will work with a dozen other carriers, including Sprint, U.S. Cellular Corp. , C Spire and Nex-Tech Wireless , to provide reciprocal roaming agreements. The Hub, powered by Transaction Network Services (TNS), acts as a clearinghouse to simplify the business and technical requirements for LTE roaming. (See Sprint Adds First 12 LTE Rural Roaming Partners.)
T-Mobile joining the Hub should give rural carriers affordable access to its LTE network to reach outside of their footprints, as well as let T-Mobile expand into rural America on their networks. The Hub provides the point of interconnect, letting the carriers work together even with incompatible LTE spectrum.
"The thought process behind the creation of data access hub was to create the equivalent of a virtual tier one nationwide carrier that would be open to every small carrier joining its capabilities and bringing scope and scale to small carriers," CCA President Steve Berry says. "Everyone has to sell a nationwide product or you won't get people signing up to your network."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading