UScellular will be expanding its 5G network three months earlier than anticipated because it has received full access to the 5G C-band spectrum it was awarded in March 2021 in Auction 107. The mobile carrier has prepared more than 440 cell sites in preparation for the expansion.
A company spokesperson confirmed that the company was able to use the spectrum sooner than expected because the previous users moved off earlier than they had to but did not answer a question from Telecompetitor about whether the previous users received compensation for the early move.
C-band spectrum is mid-band spectrum, which is considered to support the optimum mixture of speed and coverage. It includes spectrum between 3.7 and 3.98 GHz.
“This early access to our C-band spectrum allows us to accelerate our plans and bring a superior network experience to more mobile and Home Internet customers earlier than expected,” UScellular EVP and CTO Mike Irizarry said. “Additional spectrum access is important as we advance our mission to connect people to what matters most.”
According to the company, the new network should be available to nearly 3 million households by the end of 2024. In addition to mobile service, the network will carry what it calls “business and fixed wireless applications.”
This announcement follows UScellular’s launch in June of 5G service using mid-band spectrum in a different spectrum band covering parts of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. That launch used spectrum that the company won in Auction 110 in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band.
Verizon made a similar clearance announcement earlier this month. The carrier said that it expects to expand its 5G Ultra Wideband network due to the clearance of the spectrum won in the C-Band auction. Clearance is the negotiated relocation of former spectrum users earlier than when they are mandated to move. Verizon said that it achieved final clearance four months of ahead of its initial expectations.
Updated with information from a UScellular spokesperson