Pharos-Tribune

November 7, 2013

Verizon data to increase in area

Seven towers along Ind. 24 to go live starting Nov. 18.

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Verizon customers in the area will see their data service improve significantly in just more than a week as towers finished along Ind. 24 earlier this summer go live with service, the co-president of a communications company says.

The service was made possible by S & R Communications LLC, a partnership between Swayzee-based Swayzee Communications Corp. and Rochester-based Rochester Telephone Co.

S & R has leased spectrum from Verizon Wireless to provide a Long Term Evolution, or LTE, network — the data service that allows Verizon customers to access the internet on their mobile devices — across a large portion of the north-central part of the state.

Seven towers along Ind. 24 in Cass, Wabash and Miami counties will go live Nov. 18, a press release from Swayzee Communications states.

Tim Miles, president of Swayzee Communications and co-president of S & R Communications, explained the reason the project became possible stems back to 2009. That's when the Federal Communications Commission required TV stations to distribute programming solely through a digital format and do away with analog practices that required antenna-equipped TV sets. This change then opened up an expanse of frequency for cellular providers to take advantage of, particularly in terms of data service.

"What Verizon did was they reached out to rural, small carriers with no service like Logansport and then I was just lucky enough to partner with Verizon to build out their [LTE] network in Logansport, Peru and Wabash to start out with," Miles said.

It's known as Verizon LTE in Rural America, or LRA. Miles said S & R will continue to take part in the program over the next two years, concluding with a total of 20 to 25 towers across Cass, Carroll, Wabash, Miami and Fulton counties.

"We're very close to signing a contract," Miles said.

A 300-foot tower just off Bates Street on Logansport's west side was completed in June.

S & R has a 20-year lease with Verizon for the service, which it will distribute through its wireless retail division, AIRGO Mobile.

The towers will only aid in data access for LTE Verizon devices. Verizon's voice service will continue to roam on Sprint, which owns voice service frequencies in the area, Miles said.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com. Follow him: @PharosMAK