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U.S. Cellular Corp. advanced its 5G strategy with a successful bid for high-frequency spectrum in recent Federal Communications Commission millimeter wave spectrum auctions. The Chicago-based company purchased licenses covering 98 percent of its subscribers for $256 million. 

In the 28 GHz auction, the company spent $129.4 million, acquiring 408 licenses covering 60 percent of its subscriber base with at least 425 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum. In the 24 GHz auction, the company spent $126.6 million, acquiring 282 licenses covering 93 percent of its subscribers. Together, the auctions allowed U.S. Cellular to acquire at least 300 MHz of spectrum in markets that serve 97 percent of its customer base.

“Our 5G network strategy envisions the use of a variety of spectrum bands over time,” U.S. Cellular President and CEO Kenneth R. Meyers said in a statement. “Our initial 5G deployment will be on our 600 MHz spectrum to provide enhanced broadband speed and capacity over our entire footprint with the expectation that we will be able to augment it with mid and high band spectrum over time as the technology and use cases continue to evolve.  With our success in the millimeter wave auctions, we can now cover most of our subscribers with at least 300 MHz of millimeter wave licenses, which will enable U.S. Cellular to provide its customers with the leading edge capabilities 5G is promising. 

“We applaud the FCC for conducting these millimeter wave auctions and fully support their efforts to bring mid-band spectrum to the marketplace quickly.  Spectrum is the lifeblood of this industry as we continue to ensure that we can meet the growing demand for data services, as well as create new opportunities for new services requiring high speed, reliability and low latency." 

U.S. Cellular provides a range of wireless products and services, customer support and its network to customers with 5 million connections in 21 states. The company has 5,500 full- and part-time associates. At the end of the first quarter of 2019, Telephone and Data Systems Inc. owned 82 percent of U.S. Cellular.