C Spire Wireless promised to offer a full range of LTE devices when it launches its network in Mississippi in September, but the company did not disclose what specific kinds of devices would be available at launch.
"We plan to have a full suite of devices when we launch this fall," C Spire CEO Hu Meena said during a roundtable discussion Friday at the RCA Competitive Carriers Global Expo in Orlando, Fla. C Spire said last month it will launch LTE service in 20 markets in Mississippi in September, a significant delay from C Spire's initial goal of rolling out LTE by the end of 2011.
Meena did not indicate if the "full suite" included smartphones, tablets, hotspots and USB modems, or some combination of those devices. C Spire is the only regional carrier to offer Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, which is widely expected to get LTE capabilities later this year.
A C Spire representative declined to provide further details.
Despite C Spire's ability to get the iPhone, Meena did say that larger carriers such as Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) influence how C Spire negotiates for devices. "We talked with one device manufacturer and they showed us some interesting stuff--but they said they had to check with big carrier 'X' first," he said. "They had to check to see if it's OK to sell to us. There's something messed up about that ... it's just unfortunate that there are those out there who can control the marketplace."
Another regional carrier, U.S. Cellular, recently launched LTE service via the Samsung GalaxyTab 10.1 tablet. The company will also soon introduce the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator smartphone for its LTE network. U.S. Cellular expects to launch six to eight LTE devices (including smartphones, tablets and modems) in 2012 and will have 54 percent of its customers covered with LTE by year-end.
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