American Tower and Nextlink Internet, a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP), today announced they have signed a new long-term agreement to bring Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) to users in rural America. Specifically, Nextlink Internet plans to co-locate on over 1k of American Tower’s rural tower sites.

This partnership will help facilitate rapid deployment of Nextlink Internet’s Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) service to residents and small businesses across 11 states. Specifically, these states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, and Wisconsin.

Nextlink Internet has been a significant recent participant in three major Federal Communications Commission (FCC) programs. Specifically, Nextlink Internet was a Connect America Fund II (CAF-II) recipient and a recent provisional winner in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program. Additionally, in September 2020, Nextlink Internet purchased spectrum licenses in the FCC’s CBRS auction.

For Nextlink Internet, American Tower, given its scale, is the ideal digital infrastructure partner. Indeed, American Tower is able to help Nextlink Internet meet its critical build-out deadlines, as part of its commitments to the FCC from these auctions. Further details on Nextlink Internet’s participation in these auctions is provided below:

Connect America Fund II (CAF-II) – Auction 903

Nextlink Internet (through AMG Technology) was the largest bidder in the CAF-II auction. Indeed, Nextlink Internet received support of $281m in 101k locations, equating to $2,792 of support per location.

Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) – Auction 904

Nextlink Internet (through AMG Technology) was the sixth largest bidder in the RDOF Phase I auction. Indeed, Nextlink Internet received support of $429m in 206k locations, equating to $2,082 of support per location.

Overall, four of the top ten bidders in the RDOF Phase I auction were Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), including Nextlink Internet. Specifically, the other three Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) were LTD Broadband, Resound Networks, and Starry (Connect Everyone).

Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) – Auction 105

Nextlink Internet (through AMG Technology) was the ninth largest bidder in the CBRS Auction 105 for 3.5 GHz spectrum. Indeed, Nextlink Internet spent $28.5m to purchase 1,072 licenses.

Overall, American Tower has noted that it expects that the core part of 5G networks in the United States, in suburban and rural areas, will be broadcast on mid-band spectrum, using frequencies like CBRS.

Nextlink Internet is a rural-focused provider of high-speed internet and phone services across the Central United States. Specifically, Nextlink Internet currently serves customers in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. The company is a fully IP-based, carrier-class network from core to edge. Overall, Nextlink Internet has 60k+ customers, 600+ employees, and extensive fiber and wireless infrastructure.

Adam Simmons covers Towers for Dgtl Infra, including American Tower (NYSE: AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI), SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC), Cellnex Telecom (BME: CLNX), Vantage Towers (ETR: VTWR), IHS Holding (NYSE: IHS), and many more. Within Towers, Adam focuses on the sub-sectors of ground-based cell towers, rooftop sites, broadcast / radio towers, and 5G. Adam has over 7 years of experience in research and writing for Towers.


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