US Cellular picks Nokia, Ericsson for next 5G move

US Cellular teamed with Ericsson and Nokia on the next phase of its 5G deployment, tapping the vendors to deliver a mmWave network to complement its existing low-band infrastructure.

The vendors will deliver kit for 24GHz and 28GHz frequencies, with Ericsson also contracted for 39GHz gear and Nokia set to deliver its open edge AirFrame platform for cloud RAN along with its Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING) product.

Mike Irizarry, US Cellular’s CTO, said mmWave 5G will allow it to “offer an even wider range of communications services” which require faster speeds and low latency. It expects to launch the network in 2021.

Though mmWave has a short coverage range compared with low-band, Irizarry previously told Mobile World Live the operator has a plan to extend its reach.

The approach of combining low- and high-frequency airwaves for 5G is common in the US, with Verizon and AT&T also doing so, albeit with mmWave as their starting point.

US Cellular began its 5G rollout in early March, using 600MHz spectrum for deployments in parts of Iowa and Wisconsin. Earlier this month, it laid out plans to expand the network to customers in 11 additional states over the next four months.