CellSouth Taps Samsung for LTE

A week after regional carrier Cellular South said it would not participate in Verizon Wireless 's rural Long Term Evolution (LTE) licensing program, it is detailing LTE network plans of its own, relying on network equipment from Samsung Telecommunications America LP .

As part of its tie-up with Samsung, the mobile division of the carrier will supply CellSouth with two LTE smartphones and other devices when its network goes live in the fourth quarter of 2011. CellSouth will also use voice-over LTE (VoLTE), running on the 700MHz spectrum it acquired in the 2008 auction.

Why it matters
Like most telcos across the globe, regional providers in the US are working out their transition plan to 4G. CellSouth, the ninth-largest operator in the US with around 900,000 subscribers, joins fellow small telcos U.S. Cellular Corp. , MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS), and Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), in prepping for the move. (See US Cellular Plots LTE Launch.)

The approach that each is taking, however, differs. US Cellular has said it's open to buying capacity on LightSquared and Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), while MetroPCS is building out its own network, also with Samsung. So far, Bluegrass Cellular has signed up with Verizon's Rural America LTE licensing program to use its 700MHz upper C block wireless spectrum and Verizon says it has five deals signed and another 12 under discussion.

VoLTE is also an important consideration for any telco deploying LTE. While CellSouth hasn't confirmed what speeds it will run when it launches, it has promised to offer smartphones and support VoLTE, making it an interesting service to watch. (See LTE Watch: Sequans to IPO? and LTE Voice Lag Leaves Operators Vulnerable .)

For more
For more on telcos' LTE launch plans -- networks, devices, and speeds -- check out the follow stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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