C Spire says customers and businesses are experiencing a 15 to 20 percent improvement in mobile broadband speeds throughout much of its wireless network due to installing new base stations and software that also will serve as the foundation for the company’s transition to 5G.

C Spire, based in Ridgeland, is the nation’s largest privately owned mobile services firm and is in the final stages of work on the multi-million-dollar project with completion expected by the end of this month.

The company said it has spent much of the year upgrading the 1,200-plus cell sites in its wireless network and laying the groundwork for the next phase of mobile communications in 5G

“We are uniquely positioned with low, mid and high-band spectrum to ensure that we design and engineer a network that is truly customer inspired and fully meets customer needs for speed, latency and coverage,” said Alan Jones, senior vice president of Access and Deployment for C Spire.

The updated base stations and software is necessary to ensure a smooth transition from current 4G LTE technology and “maximum flexibility and efficiency for use of precious spectrum resources,” the company said

“We’re using carrier aggregation technology, which brings together spectrum from multiple frequency bands for improved speed and spectral efficiency, and other software and hardware improvements to achieve better speeds and pave the way for Voice over LTE or high-definition mobile voice service,” Jones said.

New mobile networks are expected to be the foundation for advances in smart home applications, smart manufacturing, smart cities and broader Internet of Things technology, including humanoid robotics, connected cars, remote surgery, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

“Imagine downloading a 4K movie in seconds or watching video in a crowded football stadium with no buffering,” Jones said. “That’s the potential, the promise and the challenge of 5G. We need to chart an intelligent, timely and efficient path from 4G LTE to 5G that makes this a reality.”

Some analysts are forecasting the IOT market to grow to $520 billion by 2021 and the number of cellular IoT connections to reach 3.5 billion by 2023.

“The potential is mind-boggling – so we have to make sure we have the right technology and the right network to support all of that activity,” Jones added.

Earlier this year, C Spire formed a consortium with Airspan Networks, Microsoft, Nokia and Siklu to test and deploy a variety of broadband technologies and new business models for use by regional fixed and wireless internet service providers, utilities and others to help improve broadband connectivity and adoption in rural areas.