C Spire chooses Alcatel-Lucent to roll out LTE network

C Spire Wireless said Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) will build its LTE network, which is scheduled to launch in September. The vendor selection is 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 said Alcatel-Lucent will supply LTE base stations, IP mobile backhaul for LTE and existing CDMA traffic, Wireless Packet Core and a complete IP Multi-Media Subsystem (IMS) core network, which C Spire said will allow it to develop and offer advanced IP-based services, such as voice over LTE. 

"We believe that Alcatel-Lucent's solutions and considerable global deployment experience, backed by Bell Labs' technology and innovations, will help us deliver on our commitment to provide a personalized mobile broadband experience that gives consumers and businesses unmatched connectivity, reliability, mobility and the ability to communicate in new and innovative ways," C Spire COO Kevin Hankins said.

C Spire has said it will invest $60 million for the initial phase of its LTE deployment in 20 Mississippi markets beginning in September covering 2,700 square miles, a population of 1.2 million and more than 360 cell sites. The carrier has not detailed its LTE pricing plans yet, but has said it will offer the Samsung Galaxy S III and other LTE devices later this year.

When C Spire, then known as Cellular South, first announced its LTE plans in November 2010, Samsung was the company's network infrastructure and device partner. C Spire had intended to deploy LTE by the end of 2011. That deadline came and went, and in March, C Spire announced its plans to launch LTE by September, noticeably without mentioning Samsung as a partner.

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's relationship with C Spire.

"As you might expect, C Spire does not comment on contractual relationships or bidding processes with vendors and supplies," said C Spire spokesman Dave Miller when questioned about C Spire's relationship with Samsung. "However, we've had a long-standing relationship with Alcatel-Lucent as they're also helped us with the continuing expansion and build out of our 3G CDMA voice and data network. Samsung remains a valued partner."

Miller declined to provide further comment.

Along with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Samsung is one of three main vendors for Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Network Vision project, which includes the deployment of LTE.

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