5G

UScellular marks 100,000 FWA customers

UScellular said Tuesday that it has officially surpassed 100,000 Home Internet customers and it’s  stoked for even more growth over the coming years.

The 100,000 milestone wasn’t exactly out of the blue, as the company had previously indicated its fixed wireless access (FWA) offering was going gangbusters. At the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s Connect(X) show in May, UScellular CTO Mike Irizarry said the regional operator already had close to 100,000 FWA subscribers.

In a press release Tuesday, UScellular Chief Marketing Officer Eric Jagher said they knew rural areas in particular would see great benefit from having a FWA solution.

“We continue to enhance our Home Internet experience for customers, and the growth and positive response we’ve received to this service has us excited for the future. As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to further updating the service so we can soon surpass hundreds of thousands of Home Internet customers,” Jagher stated.

Need for BEAD

UScellular has made it clear that it wants to use funds from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to build more towers and serve more rural areas with FWA while increasing its 5G mobile coverage.

The company this week reiterated the importance of that BEAD funding.

“Fixed wireless technology will likely be the best and most affordable option in many under- and un-served areas to help bridge the digital divide in the United States,” the company stated.

5G speeds

When UScellular first started offering Home Internet, it was on its 4G LTE network. But it has since upgraded the service with low-band, mid-band and millimeter wave 5G in select markets across the country.

According to the operator, most customers today can access 5G speeds on the service, which is what led to a doubling of the customer base over the past 18 months.

UScellular currently offers self-install, plug-and-play internal antennas and routers and a professionally installed external antenna in certain areas. Later this year, the company expects to have additional self-install options available.

In addition, UScellular said it offers a free Internet Setup Coach for all new customers. Experts from Asurion are available via phone to help customers with router placement for the best speeds and getting all the essential devices — such as computers, TVs and doorbells — connected to their home's Wi-Fi network.

The good news on the FWA front is offset by the fact UScellular has been losing postpaid wireless customers. The pace did slow between Q1 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023, however. UScellular reported a loss of 24,000 postpaid customers in Q1 2023 compared with a loss of 44,000 in the year-ago quarter.

The company ended Q1 2023 with a total of 4,223,000 postpaid wireless customers. UScellular reports Q2 2023 results this coming Friday.