C Spire to expand local LTE service in Mississippi

Regional carrier C Spire Wireless said it will expand its LTE coverage area in Mississippi later this summer and also will bring LTE service to parts of Alabama and Florida by year-end.

The company said that beginning in August it will bring LTE to new areas in Mississippi that cover 5,993 square miles, a population of 496,000 and 205 cell sites across the state. The new expansion covers 71 cities and 51 counties in Mississippi.

That build will expand on C Spire's initial LTE launch in Mississippi last year, which covered 37 markets across 2,700 square miles, a population of 1.2 million and 388 cell sites. C Spire said its LTE service will be available to nearly six out of every 10 consumers and businesses in the state when the latest phase is completed this year.

Privately held C Spire also said it will launch LTE services in 21 cities and six counties in south Alabama and along the Florida panhandle by the end of the year. The company did not give a specific timetable for doing so.

C Spire Wireless launched its LTE service last September in Mississippi using gear from Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU). The company launched the network in 1700 MHz AWS spectrum and 1900 MHz PCS spectrum, and not its Band Class 12 700 MHz spectrum it had initially planned to use. The company said it didn't deploy in the 700 MHz spectrum because it lacked devices.

In April Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse announced that Sprint was working with C Spire  to enable LTE roaming across multiple spectrum bands. Speaking at the Competitive Carriers Association conference, Hesse said Sprint wants to be the preferred roaming partner for smaller operators in the United States and is working with C Spire, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and others to make that happen. Specifically, Hesse said that Sprint is working on a solution that will allow LTE roaming across 850 MHz, 1900 MHz and 700 MHz spectrum.

Last week executives from Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) strongly hinted that the company's LTE roaming deal is with Sprint. Matt Stoiber, Cricket's senior vice president of devices, said that Cricket's planned Samsung Galaxy S4 will support LTE and LTE roaming in the AWS Band 4 as well as Band 25. T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) is among the carriers that support LTE in Band 4. Sprint uses Band 25 for its existing LTE network on its 1900 MHz spectrum, and Stoiber suggested the S4 will use that network.

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