The LTE Eligibility Concept


Why in the world would you limit the amount of people on a wireless Internet product like LTE?


Good question, and the answer is simple. We have to.


Over the past year Rock Island has been implementing the most current, high-end commercial wireless network on the planet. We have been rolling out a state-of-the-art 4G, or LTE wireless network in three private licensed RF bands (B2, B4 and B12). Implementing these sites is a costly and a time-intensive endeavor, and what we’ve learned through the process is that supplying the Internet over the air is extremely limiting.


To be specific, there are usually three wireless sectors per wireless site we implement, and each sector has a maximum amount of bandwidth it can provide. Each of these sectors can support about 40 people at a service level of about 10Mbps download on average to each user. Do the math and you will see that we can only host 120 people per wireless site. So how do we decide who these 120 people are when looking at a site in the middle of Friday Harbor – where there are hundreds of homes and businesses? Yikes.


As far as we can tell, there seems to be two ways of choosing who gets to access this service:

1. First come first serve

2. Set some eligibility guidelines and follow them


First Come First Serve: Many people may believe that this is the correct method of distributing this precious resource, but there is some history here that we have not forgotten. Our national incumbent telco Century Link essentially does this with their services, and when all capacity is gone in a certain area, they call the area ‘exhausted.’ Anyone late to the party, no matter if a home or business, wealthy or poor, desperate or just eager, cannot get Internet access or a phone line, no matter what.


Set Eligibility Guidelines: We feel that the best way to allocate a scarce and important resource is to set up some guidelines, and then serve the people who need it most based on those guidelines. To that end, we have set up an 8-point editorial check list that we use to ‘qualify’ addresses for LTE Fixed Wireless. That’s why you see some addresses that are eligible for service and some that are not.


Ask any of us, and we will tell you that fiber is the answer to our Internet crisis. There is no other fix out there today that will:


  • Travel the distances we have to travel from the mainland, through our neighborhoods, and to our homes with any capacity
  • Replace the current infrastructure with material that won’t decay over the near term
  • Provide redundancy and protection against wind, rain and tidal hazards
  • Get us up to the national average Internet speed of 26Mbps download
  • Scale beyond the national average to cover future growth needs for decades to come


So fiber is the solution, but wireless is available to those where fiber isn’t feasible, or too expensive to bring to their home or business. For example, we are pleased to say that we have connected people on many of our outer islands like Crane, Waldron, Stuart, Spieden, Center, Henry, Canoe, Yellow, Charles and more.


This is our rationale for our Eligibility process. We hope you understand where we’re coming from, and if you do not, feel free to call us at 378-5884 to discuss this more.


You Can Appeal:


If you think you should be able to get LTE coverage but don’t show up as Eligible, or you want to appeal your eligibility status based on your personal circumstances, then please contact our appeals team so we can review your scenario. While we don’t alter eligibility that often, we are open to hearing from you and learning more about your circumstance.


You can write to our appeals team here:


LTE Appeals