UScellular Launches 5G Mid-Band Network in parts of 10 states

UScellular today announced the launch of its 5G mid-band network, with customers in parts of 10 states who now have access to the benefits of the company’s faster and stronger network. UScellular’s 5G mid-band technology combined with a mid-band enabled device can provide up to 10x faster speeds than its 4G LTE network and low-band 5G. This technology has more capacity, enhances the mobile experience, and has business and fixed wireless applications.

By the end of June, UScellular’s 5G mid-band network will be available mainly in parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, including sections of Rockford, Ill., Des Moines, Iowa and Milwaukee. Communities in Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia and Washington are also included in the initial rollout. By the end of the year, the company plans to cover more than 1 million households in its operating footprint with its 5G mid-band network.  The company is using 5G network equipment from Nokia and Ericsson.

“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,” said Mike Irizarry, executive vice president and chief technology officer for UScellular. “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.”

Broader 5G coverage (see map) with mid-band technology provides customers and businesses with even faster data connection speeds for a better experience. UScellular will continue to expand its device portfolio, including adding more options for its High-Speed Internet product and additional IoT devices, to further enhance its mobile and fixed connectivity offerings.

UScellular now offers customers low-band, mid-band and high-band mmWave 5G speeds and services. The company expects nearly 3 million households in its operating footprint will have access to 5G mid-band connectivity by the end of 2024.

UScellular’s 5G mid-band network is using 3.45 GHz spectrum that was purchased through Auction 110 granted in 2022. The company is partnering with Nokia and Ericsson for its mid-band buildout.  The company was among the top five bidders in the FCC’s 3.45 GHz Auction 110, where it spent over $579 million. It also acquired C-band spectrum for about $1.46 billion in 2021; that spectrum starts to become available later this year.

UScellular did not need to coordinate with the Department of Defense (DoD) for the 3.45 GHz sites that are part of this launch, but DoD coordination is needed for some sites that are to be deployed in the future, according to a company spokesperson.

Speaking at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Connect(X) conference in New Orleans last month, Irizarry said the company expects a “rapid acceleration” of its mid-band spectrum 5G deployment to occur in 2024.

About UScellular:

UScellular is the fourth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to help customers stay connected to the things that matter most. The Chicago-based carrier provides a strong, reliable network supported by the latest technology and offers a wide range of communication services that enhance consumers’ lives, increase the competitiveness of local businesses and improve the efficiency of government operations.

Through its After School Access Project, the company has pledged to provide hotspots and service to help up to 50,000 youth connect to reliable internet. Additionally, UScellular has price protected all of its plans, promising not to increase prices through at least the end of 2024.

To learn more about UScellular, visit one of its retail stores or


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One thought on “UScellular Launches 5G Mid-Band Network in parts of 10 states

  1. UScellular’s parent company Telephone & Data Systems (TDS) is signaling that it’s ready to explore “strategic alternatives” for the wireless company. TDS owns 83% of UScellular, which is the fifth largest wireless operator in the U.S. with about 4.2 million customers.

    TDS’ board said it has retained Citi as its financial advisor and has hired legal counsel in connection with the UScellular review. In addition, UScellular’s independent directors said they have also retained a financial advisor and legal counsel.

    The operator has struggled for the past several years to retain its wireless customer base amid growing competition from the big Tier 1 operators and new competitors such as the cable mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

    The news came as little surprise to the wireless industry. John Byrne, vice president of research, communications service providers at IDC, said via X (formerly Twitter) that UScellular has been a rumored acquisition target for at least 20 years. However, he believes that the company’s “goofy footprint,” which spans several states but is scattered across the U.S. makes it difficult to envision a single buyer.

    Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics, said that he believes a sale of UScellular is inevitable because the wireless operator hasn’t been able to turn around its losses. “The company has tried to run away from the competition and it has just followed them,” Entner said. He added that as a small service provider the only way to compete is to be “flexible and innovative” and instead of doing that UScellular launched pricing plans that were “me-toos” of the big operators.

    Three years ago, UScellular hired Laurent (L.T.) Therivel as its president and CEO in hope that his leadership could turn around its losses. However, Therival struggled to stop the steady decline in subscribers. During the company’s Q2 earnings that it posted today, UScellular lost 28,000 postpaid net adds and ended the quarter with 4.2 million wireless subscribers, down from 4.3 million subscribers in the same quarter of 2022. It also reported net income of $5 million, compared to $21 million in the same quarter a year ago.

    Potential buyers?

    As far as potential buyers for the company, Entner said that he believes it could be any of the three Tier 1 operators but said that it’s likely that any potential buyer will shutter UScellular’s network and instead migrate its subscribers to their own network. Entner also said that the real value in UScellular is not its 4.2 million wireless subscribers but its spectrum.

    The company is in the midst of deploying 5G across its mid-band spectrum. It owns mid-band spectrum in the 3.45 GHz band that it is currently deploying in several states. In addition, it spent $1.28 billion on 254 C-band spectrum licenses in Auction 107 and it is planning to deploy 5G in the C-band later this year.

    UScellular also owns 4,341 towers and has been trying to grow its tower revenue by adding more tenants to its sites. Austin Summerford, chief of strategy, partnership and towers at UScellular, said during the company’s Q2 earnings call that it has increased its tower tenancy ratio from 1.44 tenants per site two years ago to 1.55 tenants per site today, adding that there’s room for it to grow revenue on its tower sites. In Q2 total tower revenue was $25.2 million, up from $22.9 million in the same quarter in 2022.

    Another bright spot for UScellular is its fixed wireless access (FWA) business. The company said its FWA subscribers grew 66% to 96,000 at the end of Q2 and it exceeded 100,000 FWA subscribers last month. The company’s FWA subscribers are primarily on its 4G LTE network and it expects to offer FWA over its mid-band 5G spectrum later this year which Therival said will make it possible to more effectively compete against cable broadband offerings.

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