US Cellular to Play LTE Catch-Up in March

U.S. Cellular Corp. (NYSE: USM) will officially launch its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in March, covering 25 percent of its customer base.

In tandem, the carrier will offer the Samsung Corp. Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the new network, with the Samsung Aviator LTE smartphone to follow in April.

U.S. Cellular first hinted at its LTE launch plans in a tweet early this year, but Wednesday's announcement confirms the timing and its device launch partner. The sixth-largest carrier will build out LTE with partner King Street Wireless, which holds 700MHz wireless spectrum.

The March rollout includes Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, Wis; Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa; Portland and Bangor, Maine; and Greenville, N.C.; and select cities in Texas and Oklahoma.

Why this matters
U.S. Cellular originally intended to launch LTE in November 2011, so the network has been a long time coming. Now late to the scene, the carrier will have stiff 4G competition from larger rivals Verizon Wireless , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and, soon, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). But U.S. Cellular points out that it'll be the first carrier to offer LTE-powered services in several of its initial LTE launch markets. (See US Cellular Plots LTE Launch.)

U.S. Cellular also adds to the list of LTE wins for Samsung. The vendor supplies network equipment and mobile devices to fellow small U.S. carriers Cellular South and MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS). And, it's growing in Europe, where it supplies LTE mobile devices to operators like Telefónica UK Ltd. , Telia Company and Vodafone Germany , and is looking to rack up more infrastructure deals as well. (See CellSouth Taps Samsung for LTE and Samsung's Grand Plans for Euro LTE.)

For more
Read up on how LTE is shaping up in the U.S. below.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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