C Spire launches LTE service in Mississippi

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C Spire Wireless officially took the wraps off its long-planned LTE network, and said it now has service running in two Mississippi markets with more on the way later this fall.

The carrier said it launched LTE service in McComb and Greenville, Miss., and plans to have service up and running in 31 markets by the end of October and another six before the end of 2012. Previously, C Spire said it would launch LTE in 20 Mississippi markets in September. The company will expand LTE services in Mississippi and other states in 2013, though it did not give specific rollout targets.

The initial LTE markets will cover 2,700 square miles, a population of 1.2 million and 364 cell sites. C Spire has said it will invest $60 million in the initial buildout. In July the carrier tapped Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) to build the network, which was a reversal from C Spire's original LTE network announcement in November 2010, when the regional carrier said it had selected Samsung as its LTE vendor.

The carrier's first LTE device is from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit, the Photon Q, which Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has also launched. The gadget runs Android 4.0, has a Qwerty keyboard, 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processor, a 4.3-inch screen, NFC and Motorola's SmartActions app to extend battery life. The device is available for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

C Spire also said it will launch the Samsung Galaxy S III and Franklin Wireless 2-in-1 smart modem and mobile hotspot, but it did not give pricing or availability for those devices. 

It appears that C Spire's LTE pricing will mirror all of its non-LTE data pricing. The company's high-end infinite data with streaming plan offers unlimited voice, messaging, data and video streaming for $100 per month.

C Spire has purchased 700 MHz A Block spectrum but it is not clear whether the company has launched LTE service on that spectrum or its legacy spectrum holdings. A C Spire spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company originally had planned to deploy LTE by the end of 2011 but said in march 2012 that it would launch the network in September. C Spire operates a network that covers Mississippi and parts of Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. The company has close to 900,000 total subscribers.

For more:
- see this release

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