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On MTA’s decision to exit the Fixed Wireless business

February 28th, 2018

Published in the Frontiersman, Sunday, February 25, 2018.

MTA is keeping pace with the evolving communications industry. From humble beginnings in 1953 as a rural cooperative, MTA has sought to serve as many Alaskans as possible and thrive throughout a time packed full of technological advances.

That same philosophy holds true in today’s technology-driven marketplace. The wireless industry is highly competitive and changing rapidly, requiring a tremendous amount of continual infrastructure investment. After a thorough review, MTA made the decision to exit the wireless market. MTA must use its resources wisely and resist the temptation to provide service to a small segment of the population at a tremendous cost to the majority of member-owners. Our business decisions must represent the entire base of our member’s interests.

On the heels of this decision, came the decision to end our Fixed Wireless service to a remote section of the Susitna Basin. This service is an out-of-date technology that is failing at an increasing rate. It was delivered by the wireless spectrum and tower infrastructure that MTA owned while operating as a wireless carrier. Recently, MTA sold its towers and spectrum as a result of exiting the competitive wireless arena.

Some question if the decision to end Fixed Wireless service to remote customers is counter to the cooperative spirit. In reality, the cooperative model requires organizations like MTA to make business decisions that are beneficial to the entire member base, such as exiting the wireless business. All of MTA’s decisions are grounded in our mission to be Alaska’s leading broadband technology company, to dedicate resources necessary to preserve the cooperative and pioneer critical economic development opportunities for the community.

Today’s wireless carriers and satellite communications companies specialize in delivering voice and internet service to the most remote locations. MTA’s research confirmed that satellite service is available to virtually all customers currently receiving Fixed Wireless service. In the alternative, Fixed Wireless customers can install an antenna comparable to the existing Fixed Wireless antenna to facilitate delivery of superior LTE wireless service to their homes.

MTA is a vibrant cooperative. The decision to exit the fixed wireless business was difficult, but necessary to preserve the resources of the remaining 99% of the cooperative. MTA has provided financial and technical assistance to affected customers to ease the transition.

This information will provide MTA Fixed Wireless customers with potential alternative solutions. Learn more.