FierceBroadbandWireless reports CenturyTel CEO Glen Post told the publicly traded telcos's quarterly conference call that it will deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) aka 4G cellular broadband in 2010 as a platform to serve fixed premises customers in rural areas. CenturyTel serves small and mid-sized markets in 25 states, according to its Web site.
If this really occurs and isn't yet another of the vaporware technology claims common in the wireless broadband world, it could provide a superior interim fixed premises broadband pipe in broadband black holes until these areas can be wired for fiber optic cable plant.
Currently 3G cellular broadband plays that role in some areas lacking wireline delivered broadband. But it's more appropriate for mobile broadband than for fixed premises users given the tradeoffs of relatively slow throughput speeds, high latency and low bandwidth caps. Locally owned and operated fixed terrestial Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), which also presently play a major role in bridging the broadband gap created by the limited technological reach of DSL and the limited service area footprints of cable companies, aren't likely to be competitive with 4G where it's deployed.
If it can deliver with good latency numbers, LTE could also offer better coverage than 3G since it will utilize 700 MHz radio spectrum that was purchased by CenturyTel Broadband Wireless and other telcos such as AT&T and Verizon in federal auctions conducted last year. The spectrum was formerly used for television signals and is noted for its robust ability to carry through rolling terrian and trees and buildings.
LTE will also potentially offer far higher thoughput -- in the range of 10-15 Mbps, according to Sidecut Reports. That's at least five times faster than what's currently available from 3G and WISPs.