US Cellular, now America’s fourth-largest carrier after T-Mobile absorbed Sprint, is introducing 5G coverage into 11 new states, bringing the total number to 13. It is also rolling out LTE Advanced technologies to its existing LTE network.
Up until now, US Cellular’s 5G network only reached parts of Iowa and Wisconsin, but the carrier is bringing the new generation network to California, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. The company has not published a timescale for the upgrades but Michael Irizarry, US Cellular’s executive vice president and CTO, explained how the carrier’s 5G service is built on “clean unused 600MHz spectrum.” US Cellular does not have to share spectrum with other carriers because the business “strategically reserved 600MHz in anticipation for 5G.” The network upgrade will be coming to busier areas first, which typically means cities, but Irizarry explains they are prioritizing small and medium towns. Check out US Cellular’s 5G video below:
The carrier is also rolling out upgrades to its existing LTE network, including 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) and carrier aggregation. In simple terms, 256 QAM is a way of condensing the information transmitted over the airwaves, and carrier aggregation is a means of combining different blocks of spectrum to increase the available bandwidth. Many recent smartphones support both of these technologies and where available, customers should notice a data speed improvement. This is good news for subscribers as “LTE Advanced,” as US Cellular calls it, does not require a device upgrade whereas for many customers, switching to 5G would – although Irizarry notes some devices may require a software update.
US Cellular’s strategy for 5G coverage involves a base of low frequency 600MHz spectrum, boosted by mid-range and higher-frequency coverage in areas of high demand. It is currently trialing higher frequency mmWave networking using spectrum from the 24GHz point up. mmWave networks offer the potential to be very fast but the signals do not penetrate buildings, walls, and sometimes vegetation and trees. US Cellular envisions mmWave cells to be restricted to dense, urban environments.
If you are a US Cellular subscriber in one of the states that should soon benefit from 5G, would you be interested in upgrading your device? Or are you excited about the higher performance LTE Advanced upgrade? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Phone Arena