Cellular South partners with Samsung on LTE network, smartphones

Cellular South said it picked Samsung as its primary LTE infrastructure vendor and plans to launch an LTE network on 700 MHz spectrum in the fourth quarter of 2011. The carrier, the nation's ninth largest wireless operator with around 900,000 subscribers, made its announcement shortly after declaring that it would not take part in Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) rural LTE licensing program.

Cellular South said Samsung will provide LTE network infrastructure as well as two LTE smartphones that will work in LTE band class 12. Cellular South, which is a privately held company, did not disclose the value of the contract. Samsung is one of MetroPCS' (NASDAQ:PCS) LTE vendors and provided MetroPCS' first LTE phone, the Craft. (Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) is the other LTE infrastructure provider for MetroPCS.)

Cellular South said it will launch service by the end of next year using Voice over LTE technology, and will expand LTE service in 2012. Samsung and Cellular South said the deal will allow them to promote rich multimedia services and "three-screen differentiation" across smartphones, laptops and netbooks and televisions--including access to Samsung Media Hub, the electronics giant's media initiative.

Cellular South joins a growing roster of U.S. carriers that have LTE plans for next year. Verizon plans to launch LTE in 38 markets by year-end, and both Verizon and MetroPCS plan to expand their respective LTE services next year. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has said it will launch commercial LTE service by mid-2011, and will cover between 70 million and 75 million POPs by the end of next year.

In a recent filing with the FCC, Cellular South said it paid $192 million in 2008 for 700 MHz spectrum licenses, and urged the FCC to mandate device interoperability across the 700 MHz band--a ruling that would essentially require Verizon to build LTE devices that also work on the 700 MHz spectrum owned by Cellular South. Cellular South said it will not participate in Verizon's rural licensing plan, which was first announced in May.

"Cellular South will focus on building its own business, not helping Verizon expand its network," the carrier wrote in its filing.

For more:
- see this Cellular South release
- see this Samsung release

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