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U.S. Cellular Plans Major LTE Launch Before 2011 Holidays

Mon, 05/09/2011 - 8:30am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

U.S. Cellular plans to launch its LTE network in two dozen markets in time for the 2011 holiday season.

The launch will cover more than a quarter of U.S. Cellular's customer base. The deployment will span cities throughout Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma.

"With 4G LTE, our customers will have faster connections to the people, information and entertainment that enhance their lives and help them stay organized," U.S. Cellular President and CEO Mary Dillon in a statement.

U.S. Cellular plans to launch in some of its leading markets, including Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, Wis.; Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa; Portland and Bangor, Maine; and Greenville, N.C.

The company said it would have devices out in time for the network launch and plans to grow its line of LTE devices in 2012 as it expands the network into new markets. The company did not specify how many devices it would launch for the holiday season.

The news that U.S. Cellular planned to accelerate its LTE build came shortly after the company's disappointing first-quarter earnings announcement Friday.

The company is struggling to retain subscribers amid competition for both prepaid customers and lucrative contract customers.

U.S. Cellular lost 31,000 customers in the first quarter, the fourth quarter in a row the company has seen declines in its subscriber base.

The launch of LTE services could help U.S. Cellular compete against Tier 1 rivals Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T, all of whom are heavily marketing their respective 4G networks. U.S. Cellular also plans to launch at least 13 new smartphones this year in an effort to spruce up its device portfolio.

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