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Source: Verizon Wireless press release

Basking Ridge, New Jersey -- Customers of six rural carriers will be among the first in rural communities to have access to 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, the state-of-the-art global standard for high-speed wireless data services, as part of the Verizon Wireless LTE in Rural America program.

Introduced last June, the program is designed to fast-forward the delivery of 4G LTE service to rural areas. More than 250 organizations have expressed interest in the program since it was announced, including wireless companies, rural local exchange carriers, Internet service providers and power companies.i

To date, six rural carriers have announced their participation in the program and many others are in active negotiations with Verizon Wireless. Bluegrass Cellular, Cellcom, Cross Wireless, Pioneer Cellular, Strata Networks and Thumb Wireless have leased spectrum covering, in total, more than 1.8 million people and nearly 58,000 square miles in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin and Utah.

Through the LTE in Rural America program, Verizon Wireless works with rural companies to collaboratively build and operate a 4G LTE network in their areas using the tower and backhaul assets of the rural company and Verizon Wireless' core 4G LTE equipment and 700 MHz spectrum. In addition, customers of participating companies will have access to Verizon Wireless' nationwide 4G LTE network and those of other carriers in the program. Verizon Wireless customers also will be able to roam on 4G LTE networks built by program participants.

"These agreements enable rural companies to take advantage of our scale and network infrastructure, and bring the benefits of 4G services to their customers quickly and efficiently," said Molly Feldman, vice president of business development for Verizon Wireless. "Companies in the program are working with our regional network teams to finalize their build plans and get their networks up and running."

Verizon Wireless launched its 4G LTE network last December in 38 markets and more than 60 commercial airports, covering one-third of all Americans. The company will expand its 4G LTE network to an additional 140 markets by the end of 2011 and plans to cover its entire 3G footprint with 4G by the end of 2013.

Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network provides speeds up to 10 times faster than current 3G networks, making it the fastest mobile network in America for downloading songs and movies, video conferencing, multiplayer gaming and more. Currently, two USB modems are available for laptop users to take advantage of 4G speeds. Ten additional 4G devices, including smartphones, tablets, mobile hotspots and notebooks, will be introduced in the first half of 2011.