Anterix Signs Ameren for First 900 MHz LTE Contract
Monday, December 21, 2020 | Comments

Anterix announced its first long-term 900 MHz broadband spectrum lease agreement, covering Ameren’s service territories for 30 years.

These agreements enable Ameren's deployment of a private LTE network to support its digital transformation to deliver benefits for millions of Ameren customers in Illinois and Missouri. Ameren will enjoy the scale, security and innovation benefits that the global LTE ecosystem provides, while simultaneously maintaining control of its own private communications capabilities with licensed spectrum, Anterix said.

"Today's announcement officially launches the utility industry's capturing of the tremendous benefits of 900 MHz private LTE, a foundational element of a reliable and secure electric grid," said Anterix President and CEO Rob Schwartz. "As Anterix continues to collaborate with the fantastic team at Ameren to help achieve their broadband vision beyond these milestone agreements, we believe this partnership will also drive the utility sector's collective adoption of 900 MHz private LTE."

Recognizing the scarcity of the spectrum asset, Ameren was an early advocate for regulatory changes by the FCC that would enable broadband services in the 900 MHz spectrum band and is a founding member, along with Anterix, of the Utility Broadband Alliance. Ameren piloted multiple use cases, and after a successful outcome, elected to execute these agreements. Other utilities are also working with Anterix to explore 900 MHz private LTE opportunities.

"We see 900 MHz private LTE as a vital component of our digitization strategy to support a wide range of benefits to Ameren and its customers, allowing for the eventual consolidation of over 20 of our legacy networks onto one platform," said Bhavani Amirthalingam, senior vice president and chief digital information officer for Ameren. "Anterix has been a valuable partner in our pursuit of the critical communications layer of our digital grid. Over the next several decades, this private LTE network will advance the reliability and security of the electric grid through a range of broadband-enabled applications and services, including the integration of distributed energy resources to help us meet our net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050."

The agreements are subject to customary terms and conditions, including board approvals as well as the conversion of Anterix's spectrum into broadband licenses in Ameren's service territories.

Over a series of years, Anterix petitioned the FCC to realign the 900 MHz band to allow for broadband in the spectrum. After many years of proceedings, the FCC approved a realignment of the band in May 2020. Anterix holds large amounts of the 900 MHz band and is now working to develop private broadband networks for critical infrastructure entities. During an earnings call in November, Anterix officials, including Schwartz, said they were close to signing contract with several critical infrastructure entities, including Ameren, but could not provide a full timeline of when the first one would be signed. At the time, several investors expressed frustration with the lack of a contract.

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