Regional telecom operator C Spire said it will launch fixed wireless services in eight initial markets in Mississippi, with more to follow. The company told FierceWireless it is using “multiple technologies and spectrums depending on the options available in any given area,” and that it expects to eventually cover 200,000 consumers and businesses in the state with the technology.
Privately held C Spire currently sells both fixed and mobile telecom services to subscribers across locations in the South, and is the nation’s sixth-largest wireless carrier with an estimated 1 million mobile customers. Today’s announcement by the company represents its first foray into fixed wireless services.
AT&T has also been expanding into fixed wireless offerings with its LTE network technology, while Verizon plans to launch fixed services with its 5G standard sometime next year.
C Spire said that its fixed wireless service, launching initially in eight markets, will be able to supply typical throughput speeds of 25 Mbps. The eight markets are Greenville, Vicksburg, Columbus, Greenwood, Indianola, West Point, Belzoni and Louisville. The service will cost $55 a month and won't have a usage cap, but C Spire said it reserves right to protect its network and overall customer experience -- wording that likely indicates it may throttle customers who use a lot of data.
The company added that it will eventually launch a “wireless fiber” service, first to 70,000 consumers and businesses and then later to an additional 130,000 nearby consumers and businesses, with speeds up to 100 Mbps. The company said it doesn't yet have a price for that service.
“Wireless Fiber avoids last-mile fiber construction, which can be slow and expensive, while accelerating Internet access availability in more places,” the company said in a release.
C Spire added that it has conducted tests showing the eventual possibility of fixed wireless speeds reaching 1 Gbps.
C Spire’s launch of fixed wireless is part of a larger announcement by the company to conduct “a massive expansion of ultra-fast broadband internet and wireless fiber-based fixed internet to more than 250,000 consumers and small businesses in cities and towns across the state.” The company explained that it will cover 200,000 of those customers with fixed wireless services and the remaining 50,000 with fiber-to-the-home connections. C Spire didn't offer a price for that fiber service, but said it would be "transformational."
C Spire didn't say how much its network expansion efforts would cost, but noted it has installed over 8,000 route miles of fiber optic infrastructure in the region.
Interestingly, in its launch announcement, C Spire specifically called out rival AT&T, which is also using fixed wireless services to expand its footprint.
“Unlike competitors like AT&T that are rolling out fixed wireless products of 10 Mbps as part of the FCC Connect America Fund commitment, our initial privately funded rollout will have typical throughput of 25 Mbps, a speed the FCC defined in 2015 as basic broadband internet,” C Spire said in a statement.
AT&T in June launched its Fixed Wireless internet offering through 70,000 locations across nine states, including in Alabama and Mississippi. At the time, the carrier said it plans to expand that to 400,000 locations by the end of the year, growing to 1.1 million locations by 2020. AT&T has also launched fixed 5G wireless trials in Austin and Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana.
Separately, Verizon has installed 5G fixed wireless equipment in 11 cities, with plans to launch service sometime next year.
Article updated Sept. 26 with additional information from C Spire.