TDS Telecom to launch mobile service via NCTC's MVNO

TDS Telecom plans to launch a mobile service underpinned by the NCTC's agreements with Reach and AT&T. That new offering emerges as TDS and its UScellular unit look to sell wireless operations and select spectrum to T-Mobile.

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

July 1, 2024

4 Min Read
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TDS Telecom announced late last week it will soon launch a mobile service after coming to terms with Reach, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that has an agreement in place with the National Technology & Content Cooperative (NCTC), an organization that cuts programming and technology deals for hundreds of small and midsized US operators.

TDS did not name the mobile network it will be using but noted that this piece of the puzzle will be covered by partnerships established by the NCTC. Alongside its aforementioned pact with Reach, NCTC announced an exclusive MVNO agreement with AT&T in 2023. Notably, Reach's SaaS platform – which delivers provisioning, billing and customer care – supports AT&T's, T-Mobile's and Verizon's mobile networks.

UScellular deal

TDS's plan to launch a new mobile service via the NCTC pacts comes as TDS and its UScellular subsidiary move to sell its wireless operations and about 30% of its spectrum assets to T-Mobile for about $4.4 billion in cash and assumed debt.

However, UScellular is retaining some spectrum and all of its towers (T-Mobile will rent space on those towers), and is now in position to sell its remaining spectrum holdings to another company, should it so choose. When the deal was announced in May, UScellular had about 4.1 million postpaid customers and roughly 400,000 prepaid customers across 21 states.

Related:US cable snares lion's share of mobile growth in Q1

Wisconsin-based TDS did not announce when it will begin to make services available from TDS Mobile, noting only that it will be offered exclusively to broadband customers "in many of its service areas before making it widely available."

TDS did not divulge pricing and packaging for TDS Mobile or how it will distribute and support smartphones and other mobile devices.

"TDS Mobile will feature big-carrier coverage from your neighborhood internet service provider – at a price you'll love," TDS COO Shane West said in a statement.

TDS has been asked for additional details about the timing of its mobile service launches and how it will price and package its new mobile offerings.

Update: TDS expects to reveal more details in the "coming months," West said in an emailed statement to Light Reading.

"We are excited to begin this process with Reach. As we begin rolling out the product, more details – including on when we will start marketing the mobile service and information on devices – will be announced in the coming months," West explained. "We can say that going to market as a new entrant, we will have highly competitive pricing and strong data plans attractive to consumers. While many decisions are still being made, we see a clear path to market. We will share more news as we get closer to the launch date."

Related:NCTC, Reach strike mobile deal for 700+ US cable operators

Varied approaches to mobile

Other broadband service providers that have introduced mobile services via the NCTC's agreements with AT&T and Reach are using a mix of by-the-gigabyte and unlimited plans. But how they make devices available has varied thus far.

Breezeline, which recently launched mobile services via the NCTC agreements, is initially using a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model but has said it might later reevaluate when or if to sell mobile devices directly to customers. By comparison, TVS Cable, which is also using the NCTC mobile agreements to underpin its new mobile service, has stood up an online store for smartphones.

Allo Communications, considered an early adopter of the NCTC's mobile agreement with AT&T and Reach, is also preparing to launch a mobile offering but has not announced any specifics on pricing and packaging.

Several other US cable and broadband operators have launched – or plan to launch – mobile services via their respective partners.

WideOpenWest and Astound Broadband are offering mobile in tandem with Reach using T-Mobile's network, but those services aren't linked to the NCTC agreements.

Related:NCTC strikes exclusive MVNO pact with AT&T

Mediacom Communications is testing a mobile service with employees and is closing in on a broader commercial launch across its 22-state footprint. Mediacom also works with Reach but has not announced its MVNO partner.

Comcast, Charter Communications and Cox Communications have launched mobile services through MVNO pacts with Verizon. Altice USA initially launched mobile in partnership with Sprint but later shifted to T-Mobile in the wake of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger.

Led by Charter and Comcast, US cable snared about 75% of industry post-paid mobile net adds in the first quarter of 2024, according to MoffettNathanson.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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