U.S. Cellular will launch LTE service covering 25 percent of its footprint in March and will introduce the Samsung GalaxyTab 10.1 tablet and Galaxy S Aviator 4G smartphone as its first two LTE devices.
Samsung Galaxy S Aviator
The carrier said the tablet will be available in March and that the smartphone will be available in April, but did not provide specific pricing or availability. U.S. Cellular plans to launch between five and seven LTE devices in 2012 and the carrier has long indicated that a tablet and smartphone would be its first two LTE gadgets.
The first markets U.S. Cellular will blanket with LTE include select cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma, including some of U.S. Cellular's leading markets such as Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, Wis.; Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa; Portland and Bangor, Maine; and Greenville, N.C. The company also said the next wave of market launches will be announced later this month.
U.S. Cellular did not provide any details about its LTE pricing structure and a spokesman declined to comment.
The regional carrier, which operates in 26 states, has said that its full LTE buildout likely will take three years to complete, and that it will likely cover another 25 percent of its footprint by the end of 2012.
U.S. Cellular will likely wait until Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveils an LTE-capable iPhone before considering whether to sell it, according to TDS CEO Ted Carlson. (TDS is the parent company of U.S. Cellular.) U.S. Cellular revealed in November that it had the opportunity to sell the current, non-LTE iteration of the iPhone but decided against it because it was not the right economic fit for the regional carrier.
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