UScellular has launched a mid-band 5G network that it expects to be available to one million households by the end of the year and three million by the end of 2024. The company said that in addition to mobile service, the network would support “business and fixed wireless applications,” but didn’t elaborate beyond that comment.
By the end of this month, the 5G mid-band network will be available “mainly in parts of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, including sections of Rockford, IL; Des Moines, IA and Milwaukee,” US cellular said in a press release. Parts of Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and Washington also will be included in the initial rollout, the company said.
UScellular mid-band holdings include 3.45 GHz spectrum purchased in Auction 110 in 2022. At that auction, the carrier bid $580 million to win 380 licenses covering 97% of its subscribers. UScellular also has low-band and high-band (mmWave) spectrum.
“We view mid-band as the sweet spot of 5G because it provides broad coverage, low latency and fast speeds – enabling more people to connect to what matters most at home or on-the-go,” Mike Irizarry, the executive vice president and chief technology officer for UScellular, said in a press release.
“As we approach serving 100,000 High-Speed Internet customers later this summer, mid-band will play an important role in furthering the reach and enhancement of that product. We’ve made it a priority to expand the technology to more communities in the coming years.”
The carrier detailed its mid-band plans in May, 2022. At the time, it said that it will use Nokia’s AirScale baseband equipment, MIMO radios and macro remote radio heads. UScellular said that the equipment will support its 5G standalone (SA) core network and radio access network (RAN) for its mmWave and low-band 5G.
Ericsson also is a vendor for the mid-band network.
UScellular is employing techniques beyond adding spectrum to bring 5G access to more potential subscribers. Last December, the company said that is increasing its 5G footprint using X2 coordination and Automatic Neighbor Relations (ANR).