Regional wireless carrier C-Spire claims it already launched 5G service in the United States, having announced it’s now offering a next-generation fixed wireless access solution in select locations across Mississippi earlier this week. While the company is referring to its solution as 5G, it’s not basing it on the 3GPP’s Release 15 or any other standard released by the wireless consortium. Instead, it’s using proprietary hardware and a set of close-sourced IEEE 802.11 specifications, so while the service offers faster speeds compared to 4G LTE, it likely wouldn’t be considered as “true” 5G by anyone outside of C-Spire.
In a statement provided to Light Reading, the Ridgeland, Mississippi-based network operator said it’s now offering the experimental service to both individuals and businesses, with the latter being able to sign up for the solution if they’re located in West Point, Quitman, and Clarksdale. Consumers in Byram, Pearl, Florence, and Brandon are also able to access the new FWA network. C-Spire is presently working on expanding the availability of the service to nearly a dozen additional locations, the firm said.
From a practical standpoint, FWA solutions are meant to compete with broadband offerings and replace traditional wired routers, though many industry analysts previously expressed strong skepticism about the commercial viability of such technologies, arguing that no telecom company in the U.S. can actually hope to recoup the costs of such investments in any reasonable timeframe. Instead, only truly wireless service will unlock the full potential of 5G as it gradually replaces 4G LTE, offering unprecedented speeds, latencies, and capacities. Verizon is the only major carrier in the country that’s seriously pursuing 5G FWA, whereas its three remaining rivals all previously expressed a largely indifferent stance toward such services. In regards to mobile networks, the big four previously promised nationwide 5G coverage by 2020, with large-scale deployment being set to start in the first half of 2019.