U.S. Cellular officially threw its hat into the ring and will roll out its 5G network in the second half of 2019.
According to a press release published yesterday, U.S. Cellular will partner with Ericsson as part of a multi-year agreement. Ericsson will provide the regional carrier with 3GPP standards-based 5G network equipment and software.
U.S. Cellular didn’t say which cities would get first dibs on its 5G network. However, the carrier did announce that it tested its 5G network in rural and suburban environments in Madison, Wisconsin. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and other use-cases were tested under several “real-world conditions.”
Even with its status as a regional carrier and the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, U.S. Cellular’s timeline for its 5G network rollout doesn’t put it too far away from the major players. Verizon plans to launch its mobile 5G network this spring, while Sprint is eyeing a May launch. Meanwhile, T-Mobile delayed its 5G network rollout to the second half of 2019 and AT&T already started its 5G rollout.
The interesting bit is that U.S. Cellular will not use Huawei-made 5G network equipment. That’s likely a deliberate move on the carrier’s part to avoid any conflict with the government since the U.S. is currently at odds with Huawei.
It’ll be interesting to see what U.S. Cellular’s 5G network looks like in the real world and what the carrier’s first 5G smartphone will be. We’ll make sure to keep you updated once we get more information.