Wisconsin-based Cellcom joins rural LTE party

2 May 2012

Regional US mobile operator Cellcom has announced that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network has gone live in seven areas of north-east and central Wisconsin, with cell sites deployed in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, Wausau, and parts of Oconto and Marinette Counties. Cellcom claims that additional base stations will be lit throughout 2012 as the company continues its regional 4G rollout.

Initially, Cellcom’s LTE network can be accessed using the Novatel Wireless MiFi® 4510, a mobile hotspot which allows users to connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the network, and can toggle to 3G when outside of the LTE coverage area. The device is priced at USD49.95 and includes a two-year contract. The cellco promises that additional LTE devices will be launched in coming months. Although Cellcom has not introduced any new data plans, LTE users can subscribe to one of its two existing price plans, which offer 3GB of data for USD35 per month and 5GB for USD60, respectively.

Pat Riordan, president and CEO of Cellcom, commented: ‘The wireless landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years with data use skyrocketing in the form of applications, mobile web visits, streaming music and video downloads. The launch of 4G is an exciting development for Cellcom and our customers … As a company, we have been committed to ensuring that our customers in the small cities and rural towns throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan have access to the same technology that is found in major metropolitan areas throughout the country.’

TeleGeography notes that Cellcom customers will also have access to LTE in around 230 cities across the US, including nearby Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis, via the cellco’s long-standing involvement with Verizon Wireless’s ‘LTE in Rural America’ programme. Prior to its commercial LTE launch, in May 2010 the US wireless giant revealed that it was looking to partner with an unspecified number of rural operators in an effort to speed up its LTE deployments. The cellco planned to lease pockets of its 700MHz spectrum to rural carriers so that they can roll out LTE networks of their own, over which Verizon will have roaming rights. Verizon said that it would not insist that the rural carriers used Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson as their LTE infrastructure vendors as Verizon has done, but noted that there may be some benefits from economies of scale through sharing vendors.