C Spire rolled out initial 5G service last month, starting with two locations in Mississippi, and the company says it has an “aggressive plan” to launch additional markets in 2021.
By the end of 2020, the Ridgeland, Mississippi-based service provider plans to expand 5G to parts of three other localities in the greater Jackson metropolitan area, as well as areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Privately-held C Spire invested in a significant LTE network upgrade over the last few years, deploying carrier aggregation, additional 2.5 GHz spectrum, and support for Voice over LTE (VoLTE), among other features. As of late, the network team has been busy actively upgrading sites across its footprint and aligning its first 5G market rollouts with availability of Apple’s first 5G iPhone.
Here are five things C Spire told FierceWireless about its plans for 5G:
- Spectrum: For initial launches, C Spire plans to use spectrum bands including N2 (1900 MHz), N12 (700 MHz), as well as n71 (600 MHz). C Spire said it later also has plans to use millimeter wave spectrum in the n261 band (this covers 28 GHz spectrum, which is what Verizon has mostly used for its high-band 5G rollouts so far).
- Like many operators globally, C Spire’s initial 5G launch is in non-standalone mode (NSA), which relies on LTE for signaling between user devices and the network. The company will be trialing, and potentially launching, standalone (SA) 5G in 2021.
- C Spire isn’t yet leaning on dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology for its 5G rollout, but acknowledged it “will likely use DSS technology in the future as needed.”
- C Spire is currently working with Nokia as its primary network vendor. Separately, the operator said it is interested in open RAN architectures, which disaggregates network hardware and software elements, but is not currently deploying the technology in its network.
- The carrier isn’t ruling out fixed wireless. Although first targeting mobility, C Spire said it’s not limited or prohibited to extending 5G for other services including fixed wireless.
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In 2018, C Spire launched a limited fixed wireless 5G home internet service using 28 GHz spectrum, which met the IMT-2020 requirements for fifth-generation wireless network technology but wasn’t based on the 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standard.