U.S. Cellular: Average LTE downlink speeds are 3-6 Mbps

U.S. Cellular's (NYSE:USM) LTE network, which currently covers 61 percent of the company's customers, produces average downlink speeds of 3-6 Mbps, the company confirmed. Those speeds put U.S. Cellular in the middle of the pack of U.S. carriers in terms of advertised and real-world LTE speeds.

U.S. Cellular spokesman Steve Carlson told FierceWireless that the carrier's "LTE users can expect typical data speeds of 3-6 Mbps for downloads and 1-3 Mbps for uploads. 4G LTE users can experience peak speeds of 31 Mbps for downloads and 11 Mbps for uploads. Actual speeds may vary due to area, coverage and compression."  

The average speed figures, which U.S. Cellular has not disclosed before, are notable in light of a recent report from industry vendor OpenSignal. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) users have the fastest LTE connections in the country, according to report, with average speeds of 13 Mbps. OpenSignal's results showed MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) operated the slowest LTE network in the United States, on average, with speeds clocking in at 1.2 Mbps. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) showed average LTE download speeds of 10 Mbps and Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) LTE network came in at 7.7 Mbps.

Verizon and AT&T advertise their LTE networks has providing average downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps. Sprint says that its LTE network delivers average downlink speeds of 6-8 Mbps.

OpenSignal obtained its findings through its mobile application, which has been downloaded globally 3 million times. The findings were collected over the whole of 2012 and into early 2013.

U.S. Cellular's Carlson said the carrier's LTE network runs over several different spectrum bands, including partner King Street Wireless' spectrum holdings in the Band 12 Lower 700 MHz A and B blocks and U.S. Cellular's own spectrum holdings in the 850 MHz band and Band 12 Lower 700 MHz A, B and C blocks. Carlson did not provide details on U.S. Cellular's LTE channel configurations.

U.S. Cellular said Thursday it plans to boost its LTE coverage to 87 percent of its customer base by the end of 2013. The company currently offers 10 LTE devices.

Nokia Siemens Networks has indicated it was a provider of radio access network (RAN) and mobile management entity (MME) equipment in 11 markets for U.S. Cellular's second wave of LTE launches, which occurred in late 2012.

Carlson did not immediately have an update on company's Voice over LTE technology tests. The company confirmed late last year that had started testing Voice over LTE technology but has not yet said when it will launch the service.

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