By Chris Donkin

US Cellular head calls for swift move on mid band

US Cellular CEO Ken Meyers urged authorities to begin the distribution of mid-band spectrum as soon as possible, pointing to the airwaves as vital for the supply of 5G services across large, rural areas.

Speaking with CTIA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker during a keynote session, Meyers noted his company is “joining the 5G race” with upcoming deployments in parts of Wisconsin and Iowa. However, he said the operator still lacks the spectrum to offer the service across wide rural areas.

Though the company purchased a “considerable amount” of millimetre wave spectrum in the last FCC auction, he noted there are significant challenges associated with using high-band airwaves in rural areas. Meyers added “a lot of mid-band spectrum” is needed:

“We’ll never get the coverage out of millimetre that we need if we’re really going to cover vast areas of this country. It’ll work great in dense areas and in very specific applications, like in stadiums and college dorms, but we need mid-band as fast as we can get it.”

Meyers conceded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did have a lot of barriers to overcome before making the new allocation but noted the agency is making positive progress.

Later in the keynote, FCC chairman Ajit Pai reiterated the regulator plans to hold its first auction for mid-band spectrum in the middle of next year, describing the range as “especially prized”.