US Cellular will have LTE coverage to 98% of its customers by the end of the year
Not that the carrier has been slacking, US Cellular has a physically large network that has coverage in one way or another from California to Maine. As of today, 94% of US Cellular’s 5 million customers enjoy LTE service.
The push to finally put a lid on the remaining 6% will involve building out an additional 600 cell sites, and expanding existing LTE coverage in 10 states. All told, an additional 2,000 cities and towns will have new or expanded LTE coverage before the end of 2015. US Cellular operates its entire network on incumbent 800MHz and newer 700MHz frequency blocks. The carrier did close on a number of licenses in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction, bidding nearly $340 million. However, it will be at least another year before the company can begin deploying the switchgear to use the new spectrum.
Ken Meyers, CEO of US Cellular stated that the carrier would begin testing Voice-over-LTE this year. There is no current time table for LTE-Advanced but US Cellular says it is working on a number of LTE roaming agreements.
While it is a distant fifth place in terms of size, US Cellular directly competes with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile in a number of markets, and it has been making a lot of matching moves with its product offerings and price plans. A couple years ago, the company rolled out a huge billing-system upgrade which resulted in thousands of customers not getting their bills, losing service, or unable to activate service.