Regional wireless operator Cellular South is plunking down $90 million to add extra capacity to its network ahead of the planned launch of LTE services later this year.
The level of investment is “unprecedented,” the company said today.
“These network enhancements will pave the way for the deployment of our 4G LTE network, which allows us to offer even faster speeds and deliver voice and data services with exceptional reliability and performance,” said Kevin Hankins, COO for Cellular South, in a statement.
The cash pile will go towards adding new cell sites, installing miles of fiber optic cable and hundreds of backhaul connections to Cellular South’s network. Alcatel-Lucent is handling the capacity upgrades in the network’s core and switching systems infrastructure.
Before the end of the year, Cellular South plans to install 285 spectrum carriers at 258 cell sites in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama; increase backhaul at 308 cell sites; activate 51 new cell sites; boost capacity at colleges and stadiums; and install an additional 32,400 strand miles of fiber optic cable through an existing relationship with Telepak Networks.
These aren’t the first steps Cellular South is taking to get its network hardened for LTE services before its planned launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The company also had Alcatel-Lucent standardize all of its packet-based network services for wireless Ethernet backhaul and IP services.
By the end of July, the company had added spectrum carriers to each of 110 cell sites; added backhaul to 300 cell sites; activated 20 new cell sites; and had Telepak Networks install more than 14,000 strand miles of single mode fiber optic cable.
Hankins said the company’s network technicians are spending “thousands” of hours upgrading its network.
“Our network expansion shows that we are taking the necessary steps to ready our network for 4G LTE and we are serious about continuing to be the best provider of smartphone and mobile broadband services,” he said.
Cellular South first announced it planned to deploy LTE services last November in a bid to keep pace with its larger Tier 1 competitors. Samsung is providing the network gear and smartphones for the network.
The new LTE service will eventually cover its entire footprint in the 700 MHz band, which includes portions of Columbus, Ga., Chattanooga, Tenn., Knoxville, Tenn. and Jackson, Miss.
Cellular South has not said which markets would be the first to get LTE service. The company said when it first announced its mobile broadband plans that it would have two LTE smartphones from Samsung on store shelves by the end of this year.