UScellular Building 5G

UScellular says that its strategy of supporting its 5G growth by leveraging mid-band spectrum won via spectrum auctions has succeeded.

The company sees the mid-band as the right combination of coverage and speed. It says that its success is the result of purchases of spectrum won in the CBRS spectrum featured in Auction 105, C-Band in Auction 107 and, most recently, Auction 110 in the 3.45 to 3.55 GHz band.

The carrier says that its investment of $580 million in Auction 110 for 380 licenses covers 97% of its subscribers. When combined with its C-Band and CBRS spectrum, UScellular says more than 80% of subscribers will be in areas covered by 100 MHz or more of mid-band spectrum.


UScellular’s total cost for spectrum in Auction 110, which includes gross bids and estimated relocation costs, is $0.48 per MHz-pop. The auction overall averaged $0.72/MHz-pop.

The company spent $1.2 billion on 254 licenses in the C-Band auction. The results were announced last February.

“We know that to offer an exceptional 5G experience, we need all three layers of the 5G spectrum cake – low, mid and high band. And now with our successful participation in Auctions 105, 107 and 110, UScellular has achieved its mid-band position objectives,” UScellular president and CEO Laurent Therivel said in a press release.

UScellular is not the only mobile carrier using the layer cake analogy. T-Mobile may have pioneered the term to illustrate its coverage: Low-band for broad and wide coverage, high-band for fast speeds over short distances and mid-band for what many consider an optimum mix of speed and distance.

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