NorthWestern Energy Buys 700 MHz A Block Spectrum in Montana, South Dakota
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 | Comments

NorthWestern Energy and Access Spectrum signed a purchase agreement through which Northwestern Energy will acquire multiple licenses in the upper 700 MHz A block covering Montana and South Dakota.

NorthWestern Energy will use the spectrum for a variety of fixed and mobile data solutions. The utility is already in the planning phase and has engaged with a variety of different equipment providers to design and deploy new systems on this spectrum.

“We believe this is just the beginning for the utility industry and the upper 700 MHz A block,” said Michael Gottdenker, chairman and CEO of Access Spectrum. “For too long, utilities have not had access to exclusive, licensed spectrum. For too long, utilities have had to compete with commercial carriers for licensed spectrum through an auction. For too long, utility operations have been spread over too many bands. The upper 700 MHz A block solves all of these problems.”

The A block, consisting of 1 megahertz paired, is an unencumbered portion of the 700 MHz band of the wireless spectrum that offers coverage to all 52 major economic areas (MEAs) in the country. Access Spectrum holds wireless spectrum licenses in the upper 700 MHz A block covering two-thirds of the United States.

“We have been pursuing this direction for several years and have been frustrated by lack of available spectrum in lower frequencies that will give good propagation, litigation between spectrum owners that delay agreements, and interference or incumbent issues,” said Vernan Hogge, director of telecommunications and networks at Northwest Energy. “The 700 MHz A block opportunity has had none of those issues, and Access Spectrum has been very good to work with as we forged an agreement that met our needs.”

Hogge added that he has been fortunate to have an executive team that understands the importance of spectrum that Northwestern Energy can control and use for applications now and in the future. The organizations have begun the FCC approval process, which will take a few weeks to complete. Once approved, NWE will own the licenses and can begin using the spectrum.

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