Nokia, Nextlink bring 5G-ready internet to rural Americans


Nokia and Nextlink Internet are building and upgrading networks with Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum and Nokia’s Airscale 4G LTE RAN.

Nextlink’s CBRS networks will deliver high-bandwith internet to subscribers in the Central U.S. who previously have had limited or no access to broadband services.

As an active participant in the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) to bridge the digitial divide, Nextlink Internet along with Nokia is deploying a CBRS 4G LTE network to deliver the broadband service required for today’s connected lifestyle. Nextlink will be able to offer its customers internet speeds up to 100 Mbps downlink and 20 Mbps uplink in rural and underserved regions in 11 states: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

Traditionally, wireless internet service providers (WISPs) have used unlicensed spectrum bands to deliver affordable internet access to these underserved regions, but service has been limited due to interference challenges and throughput limits. By acquiring over 1,000 CBRS Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the recent FCC auction, Nextlink will be able to complement its existing spectrum resources and increase both throughput and range. Nextlink will deploy LTE with Nokia AirScale 4G LTE RAN to deliver higher bandwidth and support more latency-sensitive applications, more simultaneous users, and better non-line-of-sight performance to maintain seamless connectivity in rural regions.

Nextlink and Nokia are currently deploying up to 25 new towers a month to support subscriber growth and will retrofit existing towers with Nokia CBRS-based equipment to connect reach more households, schools, and businesses. Nokia AirScale 4G LTE RAN is spectrum-agnostic and offers Nextlink flexibility and scalability to use a variety of frequencies from sub 6 GHz to C-Band to mmWave, thereby enabling Nextink to build its 5G-ready network today.

Bill Baker, CEO of Nextlink Internet, said: “In today’s world, where work-from-home and remote learning have become the norm, the broadband needs of a typical household have exploded, and peak usage patterns have shifted from the evening to the middle of the day, when multiple family members are simultaneously online. At the same time, small businesses, retail stores, schools, government agencies and other entities need to increase their online presence to support e-commerce transactions, educational offerings, patient services, and more. Nextlink has partnered with Nokia to deliver a network that will connect entire communities in the regions that we serve and meet the demands of these applications now and in the future.”

John Harrington, SVP, U.S. Major Accounts, Nokia said: “While the current pandemic has shone a spotlight on connectivity gaps across the U.S. and put increased pressure on service providers to deliver broadband service, bridging the digital divide is not a new issue. Forward-looking companies like Nextlink that are committed to connecting communities with “no G” service will revolutionize life and business in these underserved regions. The combination of Nokia AirScale and our CBRS expertise provides Nextlink with the scalability and flexibility to meet any need – from delivery of fixed wireless access today to 5G mobile cell service in the near future.”