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C Spire Wireless, with the iPhone 4S coming, expands broadband coverage


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Regional carrier C Spire Wireless is getting the word out on an expansion of its wireless broadband service to more than 1.3 million consumers and businesses.

With plans to cover 238 cell sites in portions of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee by the end of the year — as part of its planned 4G LTE build out — and a promised investment of $90 million to boost network capacity and upgrade cell sites, today`s announcement tacked $10 million more onto that promise, for improved coverage in 61 cities and 65 counties.

“Wireless devices are only as good as the network on which they work, which is why we’re aggressively expanding our advanced mobile broadband coverage,” C Spire COO Kevin Hankins said in a statement.

C Spire, formerly Cellular South, plans to launch its 4G network by the end of the year, with even voice-over-LTE at launch (CP: Cellular South launching LTE with Samsung).

The operator has the perfect motivation to help its network get the most out of its devices. Last week, it announced that it`s the first non-Tier 1 operator to be offered an Apple iPhone 4S. (CP: Apple moving the iPhone through regional operators, starting with C Spire.)

Aside from saying the device will be available "in the coming weeks," and calling it "the most amazing iPhone yet," C Spire offered zero information on the deal, directing all questions to Apple.

Expanding beyond the nation`s Tier 1 operators is a natural move for Apple`s continued growth, though not all of those top-ranking bases have been covered — T-Mobile, notably, is still left out of the game.

On Friday, T-Mobile Senior Vice President of Marketing Andrew Sherrad released a statement, half calling out Apple on its neglect of T-Mobile — not unlike the way certain adults will embarrass a kid into behaving by singling him or her out — and half insisting that T-Mobile`s Android 4G smartphones are just as good as the iPhone anyway.

"The issue remains that Apple has not developed a version of the iPhone with technology that works on our fast 3G and 4G networks," said Sharrad. "We believe a capable version of the iPhone for our 3G and 4G networks would offer an additional compelling option for our customers on a fast 4G network."

He added, "T-Mobile’s 4G smartphones stack up against competitive smartphones in terms of functionality, speed, features offered and overall experience — including the iPhone 4S. Reports continue of iPhones not operating well on some carrier networks, while our latest 4G smartphones offer many advantages versus the iPhone 4S."

C Spire and Verizon use identical 3G CDMA EV-DO technology, making it an easy partner for Apple. Still, not a company to be bullied or coerced, it`s perhaps little wonder that the closed-mouth C Spire has been called on to go next.


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