By NASH NUNNERY
Mississippi-made C Spire, the nation’s largest privately owned mobile services firm, is in the final stages of completing work for the company’s transition to 5G.
C Spire announced last month that home and business customers are already experiencing a 15 to 20 percent improvement in mobile broadband speeds based on upgrades to software and the installation of new base stations.
“5G is a rapidly evolving technology and we’re not close to being finalized,” said Brian Caraway, general manager of the company’s wireless division. “It’s still underdeveloped and there’s still some work ahead to get 5G widely deployed. We are in the early stages.
“But, we are closing the ‘digital divide’ in rural areas of Mississippi with all the upgrades to systems and bringing more fiber (optic) to more locations in the state.”
What exactly is 5G?
In the simplest possible definition, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular networking and the next step in mobile technology. The first generation of mobile networks (retroactively referred to as 1G) came out around 1982. It was a fully analog system until the launch of 2G (second generation networks), which made the jump to digital when it launched in 1991. 2G also added cellular data in the forms of GPRS and EDGE technologies.
Ten years later, 3G networks launched, offering an even faster data rate than 2G. The current LTE networks — known as 4G — is the fourth generation of networking. 5G networks will presumably offer a similar leap forward when it comes to things like data speed.
Though the company’s full release of 5G is steadily approaching, adopting the technology isn’t like flipping on a switch. C Spire has installed over 9,000 route miles of fiber optic cable and upgraded over 1,200 cell sites in its wireless network but there are still many more steps to go before customers can take advantage.
According to professional services network Deloitte, technology companies in the U.S. alone will spend between $130 -150 billion in fiber optics cabling to meet 5G demands.
Craig Sparks, C Spire’s chief innovation officer, said the conversion to 5G is a sound investment and will be the technological foundation for home and business in Mississippi and beyond.
“5G is generational technology and will bring so much more than 3G or 4G,” he said. “There are lots of things that 5G brings to the table – the simple answer is that the emergence of 5G is significant.”
Technology experts are predicting that in four years, more than one billion users will rely on 5G and its promises of speeds at least seven times faster than the average 4gLTE browsing experience. Francis Dinha, the co-founder of software company OpenVPN, says that the increased speeds and connections 5G brings will mean big things for businesses.
“The average 4G browsing speeds run at an average of 56 Mbps,” he said. “5G would bump speeds up to 490 Mbps.
According to C Spire officials, the updated base stations and software is necessary to ensure a smooth transition from current 4G LTE technology.
“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.
In recent years, C Spire has expanded its home services by offering 1 Gig, live streaming TV and digital home phone. According to senior media relations manager Dave Miller, the company’s CSTV may be the only Mobi-TV app-based platform blending linear and IP TV in the southeastern United States.
Ashley Phillips, C Spire’s general manager for home services, said offering television services is part of the company’s ‘soup to nuts’ approach for the customer.
“It’s important for our customers to know that we can deliver the fastest internet speeds in the country,” he said. “Delivering up to 1,000 megabytes upstream as well as downstream is important to them.
“How we treat our customers is where the rubber meets the road.”
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