Updated July 3

C Spire today said it will use wireless network equipment from Alcatel-Lucent to construct the LTE network the carrier originally hoped to launch late last year using equipment from Samsung.

A C Spire spokesman declined to comment on the change in the company’s relationship with Samsung, but he did tell Telecompetitor that one of the first devices the network will support is the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone.

The possibility that all was not well between C Spire and Samsung appeared likely in August of last year, when C Spire – known then as Cellular South — issued an announcement about its LTE deployment status that focused heavily on backhaul network enhancements using equipment from Alcatel-Lucent and which did not mention Samsung. A month later, Cellular South announced its name change to C Spire to tout the company’s new focus on mobile broadband and personalized wireless services.

According to the C Spire website, the company now plans to roll out LTE in 20 Mississippi markets by September. The company said it is investing $60 million for this initial phase.

Band 12 issues
C Spire initially said it would deploy its LTE network in the lower 700 MHz band but it is not clear if the company is using that spectrum for the September network launch.

The company’s lower 700 MHz spectrum is in Band 12 – a different band than the ones in which AT&T and Verizon Wireless won most of their 700 MHz spectrum. The FCC has proposed requiring devices operating in Band 17, where AT&T holds a large amount of spectrum, to interoperate with Band 12.  But for now, products designed for the larger carrier networks do not work in Band 12 and some smaller carriers have said they have encountered difficulties in getting handset manufacturers to build devices that will operate in Band 12 at competitive prices because of the lower volumes involved.

The C Spire spokesman told Telecompetitor that the company hopes to have the Samsung device and others for its LTE network.



Join the Conversation

7 thoughts on “C Spire’s Plan to Offer LTE by September Could Benefit Small Carriers

  1. To date, are there any regional carriers who have phones available for their customers to use on their networks? And not just the ones on the non-Verizon/AT&T bands. None of the participants in Verizon's LTE in Rural America program have any phones available to sell. Only the major carriers have phones for their LTE systems, a HUGE problem in my opinion.

    Here in Oklahoma, Panhandle Telephone Co-Op has had LTE running since March, yet there is not one word of it on their website and they have no phones available. Pioneer Cellular turned on their LTE in Rural America system May 1 with only fixed dongles available and an announcement that phones would be available in 30 days, but none are available yet. Pioneer does not mention LTE at all on their website either.

    I guess the government is going to have to mandate that cellphone manufacturers make phones that will work on these regional provider's networks, or else the billions they are spending on these new LTE systems will all have been for nothing, just throwing money out the door.

  2. I would not hold your breath. LTE handsets will make it to rural carriers only after tier 1 carriers get thei fold. Maybe 2013 before we see them. Look how long it took the iphone, not to mention the 700 Mhz interoperability issue, which complicates this even more.

    1. How many years have the "Tier 1" carriers already had LTE phones available? Verizon for one, began their LTE construction in 2010, so how many years must pass before the carriers in their very own LTE in Rural America program get access to phones? Pioneer says they can't sell phones that have Verizon's "customizations" on them, i.e. the bloat/crapware that they ship with, and that they will have to wait for the manufacturers to ship a more pure device. This sort of device is what customers want in the first place.

      As far as the iPhone goes, both LTEiRA participants now sell the iPhone, so that should not be an issue going forward. If Apple comes out with an LTE-capable version of the iPhone in the Fall, then surely it will be available on these carriers as well.

  3. Why doesn't Panhandle Telephone Co-Op just go out and buy the LTE handsets that the FCC has already approved and stop blaming manufacturers. Seems like they dont want to enter into a deal for their customers.

    1. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Rural carriers can't just call up manufacturers and place an order. Their are several issues, scale primarily among them, that prevent that approach. It's a complex issue. Manufacturers have requirements that small individual carriers cannot meet individually — at least not yet. It will take some time – but I don't think there is blame to be placed on carriers or even manufacturers. There are certainly some policy issues that if addressed, could help this situation, but it's largely a function of supply and demand – certainly not entirely so – but significantly so.

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