Samsung apparently wasn’t done finding new customers for its flagship Galaxy S III smartphone after announcing it would arrive at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular.
Regional operator C Spire Wireless is the latest to land the device, positioned as a challenger to Apple’s iPhone.
The Galaxy S III will be C Spire’s first LTE smartphone ahead of its network launch in September. Specific details on pricing and availability will be provided “in the coming weeks.”
“We’re excited that the Galaxy S III will be among the first 4G LTE devices launched on the nation’s only personalized network optimized for the next generation of high-speed data services,” said C Spire COO Kevin Hankins said in a statement today.
C Spire is carrying the 16 GB model, expected to retail for $200 with two-year contract at other carriers. Availability of the device with the five other operators carrying the device ranging from June 21 at Sprint to sometime in July at U.S. Cellular.
C Spire, which has about 900,000 customers in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, says its initial LTE deployment will cover 20 markets and 1.2 million people in its home state of Mississippi. It claims to be the first company to make LTE service widely available in the state, though AT&T and Verizon Wireless coverage maps show they also provide LTE service in Mississippi.
The LTE network was supposed to go live at the end of last year, but C Spire was forced to delay the launch by nine months after it was unable to procure LTE devices compatible with its 700 MHz spectrum.
Like many regional providers, C Spire holds band class 12 spectrum in the lower A block and B block that is not compatible with AT&T’s band class 17 equipment operating on the lower B block and C block. Availability of band class 12 devices remains limited, hampering LTE deployments for many smaller wireless operators.
C Spire recently disclosed that its continued inability to obtain band 12 devices forced it to run its forthcoming LTE network on its AWS and PCS spectrum, leaving the 700 MHz spectrum it paid $191.5 million for at the FCC’s 2008 auction to lay fallow while it waits for the band 12 ecosystem to mature.
The issue is the subject of a lawsuit C Spire filed against AT&T, Qualcomm and Motorola Mobility in April alleging the companies conspired to harm its business by delaying development of band 12 devices. The defendants have moved to have the suit dismissed on largely procedural grounds. A hearing on the motions to dismiss has been scheduled for July 17.