Fifth US operator introduces LTE; US Cellular 4G launch proceeds as planned

28 Mar 2012

Chicago-based mobile operator US Cellular reportedly launched its long-rumoured Long Term Evolution (LTE) network last Thursday, in association with wholly-owned subsidiary King Street Wireless. From launch the mobile operator is offering LTE in select cities in Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, whilst the second half of the year will see coverage extended to select cities in Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. US Cellular claims to be the first wireless carrier to offer LTE in several of these markets.

US Cellular’s LTE network is scheduled to cover around 25% of the cellco’s operational footprint by year-end, although it be a while before it launches LTE in its potentially-lucrative flagship city of Chicago; the operator failed to pick up any 700MHz spectrum in Chicago during the Federal Communications Comission’s (FCC’s) auction, although it picked up licences in all of the surrounding regions. However, if rumours of a spectrum swap with Verizon prove to be correct, the cellco may yet be able to launch in its home city.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, US Cellular subsidiary King Street Wireless won 152 regional concessions for 700MHz frequencies in the FCC spectrum auction in early-2008, paying a total of USD401 million for the licences.