C Spire’s Craig Sparks

Craig Sparks is a FierceWireless Rising Star. (Image: C Spire, Ulza/iStock)

Two years ago C Spire lured Craig Sparks from Kansas to Mississippi to become the regional wireless carrier’s VP for technology. Sparks had been in Overland Park, Kansas, for almost 30 years, the last 14 of which were spent as a distinguished member of Sprint’s technical staff.

And just last month Sparks was promoted as the company's new chief innovation officer overseeing C Spire's products and technology development.

At C Spire, Sparks is directing some of the most cutting-edge technical initiatives in wireless. The company owns an extensive fiber network in Mississippi and is testing 5G fixed wireless as a way to bring service to homes in rural areas. In the process, C Spire is providing opportunities for some smaller 5G equipment makers to test their products in real-world settings. The carrier has tested 5G using millimeter wave spectrum with Phazr and has tested at 3.65 GHz with Cohere Technologies.

Sparks has also helped C Spire develop an award-winning edge computing solution. The company operates a network of Tier III data centers and is planning to deploy “micro pods” in eight Mississippi cities this year.

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In addition, Sparks is overseeing C Spire’s efforts to turn Mississippi municipalities into smart cities. The carrier financed a smart city pilot in its hometown of Ridgeland last year.

"We're excited about taking the first step to bring smart city applications to communities like Ridgeland," said Sparks. "This is not so much about deploying many disparate applications, but developing a broader vision to help cities become more efficient and reap important financial, social and environmental benefits."

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C Spire’s Craig Sparks