US Cellular seeks 5G device boost

US Cellular aims to deploy 5G on a third of its mobile sites by end Q1 2021, positioning it to capitalise on a raft of lower-cost device launches over the rest of 2020, SVP and CFO Doug Chambers told investors.

At an investor conference, Chambers noted a number of mid-tier 5G devices are set for release by the year end, with prices of between $300 and $800 being more affordable than costly earlier flagships.

“The barrier that maybe we thought a year ago that 5G devices would be too expensive to motivate people to switch, I think that’s gone.”

US Cellular plans to cash in by expanding initial 600MHz deployments by end-March 2021: Chambers explained the sites chosen serve half of all traffic carried on its network.

In time, it will deploy low-band 5G throughout its footprint, supplementing with mmWave spectrum on less than 50 per cent of cell sites to serve high-demand areas.

It also plans to conduct mmWave fixed wireless access trials in three markets in 2021, seeking insight into demand and adoption patterns.