C Spire’s chief executive reiterated the company’s longtime position on whether it would participate in telecom’s M&A activity: only as a buyer, not as a seller.
"We are in M&A mode, but we're looking to acquire. Maybe not necessarily in wireless, but inside the fiber space, is really interesting to us. Anything last mile is really interesting to us, whether it be possibly fixed wireless or cable or fiber. Those are the things that interest us today. We have no interest in being on the other side of that. We have no interest in being acquired,” C Spire’s Hu Meena said in an interview with FierceWireless.
Those comments are noteworthy considering C Spire, which counts just under 1 million customers, remains the sixth largest wireless network operator in the United States—just behind U.S. Cellular and ahead of Shentel. Although smaller regional wireless providers like iWireless and Alltel have been snapped up by larger wireless network operators, C Spire has long remained outside of the consolidation that has swept over the wireless industry during the past decade.
And Meena said he intends to keep it that way.
However, he cautioned that the carrier will continue to look for ways to expand its business, both through acquisitions and organic efforts.
"We are looking at all ways possible to grow our business. We're still committed to growing organically, like we've done over the last 30 years, first with wireless, then with fiber and now most recently with data centers as well. We're continuing to grow the business and want to stay aggressive," Meena explained. "We're seeing a deepening need for data services being delivered to premises, whether that be to the home or businesses. There seems to never be enough bandwidth available to satiate the need. So, whether that be in our market or outside our market, we love that business. And the last-mile business, as I refer to it, is a tough business, but it's one we really like. We know it's one that's important to customers of all stripes, whether that be consumer or enterprise. We think we're good at it, and it's something that we're interested in growing. And as I mentioned, either organically or through acquisition."
Under Meena’s longtime guidance, C Spire has expanded its wireless network and has tested 5G network technology. And in recent years, it has worked to expand fiber connections throughout its wireless footprint.
Most recently, C Spire in September announced it would eventually cover 200,000 consumers and businesses in Mississippi with fixed wireless technology, though that effort continues to remain in the testing phase.
"We're trying a wide variety of wireless technologies [for fixed wireless], and we’re working with several vendors on several different types of solutions to get to the premises that we're trying to serve,” Meena explained, noting the carrier is also testing various marketing and rate plan combinations. “We're trying to learn this market just as we did with fiber to the home and as we did wireless several decades ago. We're experimenting, we're learning, and we're getting there with a set of technologies that offers a lot of potential."