July 21, 2016
Ridgeland, Mississippi-based C Spire last week became the first company to successfully demonstrate a 5G fixed wireless solution in Mississippi using Nokia (NYSE:NOK) equipment with a direct connection to its fiber-based commercial television service.
Nokia, which last month was granted Special Temporary Authorization (STA) from the FCC to conduct tests at C Spire's headquarters, supplied the base station and mobile unit. C Spire said it is only one of a handful of U.S. telecom operators with fiber optic infrastructure and 28 GHz spectrum assets working to make next-gen connectivity a reality.
The test delivered C Spire Fiber consumer television content, including ultra-high definition resolution video, with speeds up to 2.2 Gigabits per second (Gbps) and ultra-low latency below 1.4 milliseconds over the 5G wireless link. "This is the kind of real-world application that will help change forever how we live, work and play," said C Spire CTO Stephen Bye in a press release.
Nokia has been conducting 5G tests with other U.S. operators as well. In June, it collaborated with Sprint (NYSE: S) to set up a demo in the parking lot of Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, just before the U.S. competed against Colombia in the Copa America Centenario soccer tournament. Nokia built the base station and equipment used in that demo with Sprint, showing off wireless delivery of 4K ultra-high definition video.
Sprint and Nokia had wide-screen TVs set up so attendees could watch as cameras captured the action around the tent in real time. That demo ran at 73 GHz and performed link speeds up to 2.3 Gbps with ~1ms one-way air interface latency.
Nokia said it has been a close partner with C Spire for many years in Mississippi. "We're excited to collaborate with C Spire as we work together to bring real-world 5G technology solutions to market, and evolve its 4G LTE networks to provide a seamless, integrated end-to-end network for its customers," said Ricky Corker, executive vice president and head of North America Market for Nokia, in the release. "Nokia continues to demonstrate its leadership position in 5G, underscoring its commitment to advancing 5G technology and making 5G a commercial reality."
C Spire plans more real-world trials using candidate 5G technologies and its 28 GHz spectrum later this year and by the middle of next year. The carrier described the tests and market trials as cooperative efforts with industry partners to help spur the timely development of 5G standards in the coming years.
The company has deployed consumer fiber-to-the-home services in several Mississippi markets since 2013 and offers businesses a range of voice, data and cloud services through a purpose-built $23 million state-of-the-art commercial data center serving the southeastern region of the U.S. Bye said C Spire has invested millions of dollars in its network and has all the assets and capabilities to take advantage of the emerging 5G technology, including 28 GHz spectrum, hundreds of company-owned cell sites and thousands of miles of fiber optic network infrastructure connecting businesses and residential customers.
"A widely supported 5G ecosystem is critical to achieve the necessary economies of scale to unlock the promise of this technology," Bye said. "Through testing, research, standards advocacy and market trials, we're working to ensure our customers will have the full benefit of this capability as it matures and becomes available."
C Spire is actively upgrading and "densifying" its network throughout the company's Mississippi footprint, especially in rural areas and along major traffic corridors in central, northern and southwestern parts of the state, the Delta and the Gulf Coast.