Regional mobile provider C Spire Wireless has indicated that its significantly delayed Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is finally expected to go live this autumn, around a year later than initially anticipated. Wireless Week quotes C Spire CEO Hu Meena as commenting: ‘We plan to have a full suite of devices when we launch this fall’. Meena, who currently holds the role as chairman for the Rural Cellular Association (RCA), was speaking at a roundtable discussion at the RCA conference. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, C Spire’s planned LTE network which has been under deployment since late-2010. In March 2008, operating under the name Cellular South, the company won a ten-year licence for 2×6MHz of 700MHz A Block spectrum covering 14 Economic Areas and 2×6MHz of 700MHz B Block spectrum covering ten cellular market areas (which lies in Band Class 12). The cellco says that the licences cover ‘virtually all of Mississippi and Tennessee and most of Alabama’. In mid-November 2010 it contracted Samsung to supply network equipment for a LTE network deployment in the 700MHz band, expressing a desire to launch commercial LTE services in its first markets by the end of 2011.
Alluding to the significant influence of mobile giants like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless on manufacturers, Meena commented: ‘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. They had to check to see if it is okay to sell to us. There is something messed up about that … It is just unfortunate that there are those out there who can control the marketplace’. Controversially, in May 2010 Apple went on record to confirm that the original agreement signed with AT&T for iPhone exclusivity back in 2007 was a five-year deal, although both Verizon and Sprint Nextel were later permitted to sell the iPhone during that period. In October 2011 C Spire became the first regional US carrier to sell the iPhone, leapfrogging several far larger operators in the process.