UScellular CEO Laurent Therivel targeted late 2023 and early 2024 to fully employ mid-band spectrum, using an earnings call to explain it will enable the operator to provide a more compelling bundle of fixed wireless access (FWA) and mobile services.
Therivel noted on the company’s Q3 earnings call it had started to roll out mid-band on its towers and will be putting radios on towers throughout 2023.
“Our goal is to be able to, for lack of a better word, flip a switch towards the end of 2023, early 2024 and already have a substantive amount of that mid-band spectrum deployed.”
Therivel said UScelluar will offer data rates similar to the 300Mb/s provided on its mmWave spectrum.
“We think we can be highly competitive in the marketplace.”
CTO Mike Irizarry noted it aimed to accelerate mid-band deployments to between 800 and 1,000 sites per year after 2023, targeting locations with the ability to improve customer service and offload capacity while pairing mid-band with FWA opportunities.
Therivel noted UScellular’s FWA service is primarily taking customers from DSL and satellite providers, despite mostly being LTE-based at present.
“When we fire up mid-band, I expect that mix to move more towards taking share from cable companies.”
UScellular ended Q3 with 45 points-of-presence for 5G, with a goal to hit 60 by end-2023.
Therivel stated post-paid subscriber growth has been an ongoing challenge but remains one of his top priorities.
It lost 22,000 during Q3, with its overall subscriber number down by 31,000 compared with an 8,000 loss in Q3 2021.
It fell to a loss attributable to the company of $12 million compared with a $34 million profit in Q3 2021, with service revenue falling from $788 million to $781 million.
UScellular spent $1.5 billion for 254 licences in a C-Band auction in 2021 and a further $580 million covering 3.45GHz to 3.55GHz this year.
It also won 34 licences in a recent 2.5GHz band auction, which filled in some mid-band gaps.
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