Big WiMax Win for DigitalBridge in Funding, Partnership Deal with Rural Telco Co-op

Looks like rural WiMax provider DigitalBridge Communications has found some new friends in the rural telco business, judging by a couple of announcements today from both Digital Bridge and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), which represents some 1,400 rural electric and telephone utilities across 48 states.

The twin announcements — an unspecified amount of funding by NRTC into DigitalBridge, and an agreement under which DigitalBridge will participate in WiMax rollouts by NRTC members — seem squarely focused on helping rural operations get so-called “shovel-ready” projects in line to grab some of the $7.2 billion in rural broadband stimulus funds that the government will spend by September 2010.

As we dig for more information, two things jump out of these agreements: One, that DigitalBridge could secure any further funding at all in the current economy speaks volumes of the investors’ confidence that WiMax is a technology worth betting on. And two, by joining forces with the NRTC, DigitalBridge becomes a trusted supplier to all those rural telcos who might be applying for the stimulus funds — gaining the kind of access and marketing reach that a small operation like DBC might not have been able to quickly secure on its own.

Though small, DigitalBridge is well known in WiMax circles for its WiMax installations, including mobile WiMax services in Jackson Hole, Wyo., that were arguably “the first to market” in the U.S., beating the Baltimore and Portland launches from Sprint/Clearwire. With this deal, it appears that DigitalBridge is getting more ambitious with its WiMax rollout plans; we look forward to hearing more from CEO Kelley Dunne soon.

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