UScellular Building 5G

UScellular has launched Home Internet+ fixed wireless service using 5G deployed in millimeter wave spectrum in 10 markets.

A UScellular spokesperson confirmed to Telecompetitor in an email that the carrier is using its own spectrum to support the service. UScellular was one of the bigger winners in Auctions 101 and 102 of mmWave spectrum in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands, as well as in Auction 103 of spectrum in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands.

Importantly, the spokesperson also confirmed that the company has a lot of spectrum in each of the markets launched today – an average of 400 MHz per market.

Prices for the fixed wireless service start at $49.95 per month for unlimited 50 Mbps service, the spokesperson confirmed. The company also offers 150 Mbps service for $64.95 and 300 Mbps service for $84.95. Those services also are unlimited.

Millimeter wave spectrum supports higher speeds than lower frequency bands can support but over shorter distances. In trials last year, though, UScellular achieved impressive coverage using outdoor fixed wireless equipment at the customer sites – speeds as high as 1 Gbps over distances of six miles.

Customers need line of site to achieve the highest speeds but even without line of sight, the company saw speeds approaching 1 Gbps in the trials.

The strong performance that the company has seen may be related, at least in part, to the relatively flat terrain in the midwestern markets where it did its trials and where it is primarily launching service. The 10 markets where UScellular Home Internet+ fixed wireless is now available are East Moline and Rock Island, Ill.; Bettendorf, Cedar Falls, Davenport, Dubuque and Waterloo, Iowa; Yakima, Wash.; and Beloit and Janesville, Wis.

The company plans to make Home Internet+ service available in “dozens” more markets in 2022, including Springfield and Tipton, Mo., Knoxville, Tenn., and Kenosha and Milwaukee, Wis., according to a press release.

The UScellular news comes at a time when two other mobile service providers – T-Mobile and Verizon – are seeing strong results from their fixed wireless offerings. But while both of those carriers see fixed wireless as just another service that they can layer onto networks designed primarily for more lucrative mobile service, UScellular’s approach is a bit different.

Asked whether UScellular provides mobile service in the millimeter wave bands in the new Home Internet+ markets, the spokesperson said, “Mobile devices supporting these bands will be able to use it for mobility, but so far the primary use case has been High-Speed Internet.”

The outdoor fixed wireless customer premises equipment that UScellular is using for the Home Internet+ markets is from Inseego and uses components from Qualcomm, according to the press release about the service launch.

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