US Cellular, Ericsson increase mobile broadband capacity during pandemic

US Cellular and Ericsson have added additional capacity to more than 200 sites

In response to increased data usage as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, US Cellular, with Ericsson support, has begun to increase capacity for customers in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, New Hampshire, Maine and North Carolina. The pair have added additional capacity to more than 200 sites.

“We’ve seen an increase in voice, SMS and data traffic in recent weeks,” confirmed US Cellular’s Executive VP and CTO Michael S. Irizarry, “but we’ve designed a highly reliable, hardened network that can withstand shifts in bandwidth needs and handle unexpected increases in usage.”

“We know things will continue to change and evolve, so I’m grateful for the long-standing relationship we’ve had with Ericsson and their support during this time to make immediate enhancements as needed,” he continued.

The assistance provided by Ericsson is not very surprising given the company’s involvement in bringing connectivity to more rural areas, a mission it commonly refers to as “connecting the unconnected.” In fact, at the beginning April, Ericsson responded to school closures by collaborating with Rutland City Public Schools and the Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) to provide Rutland students in need with free high-speed wireless internet and Google Chromebooks.

In the statement announcing its work with US Cellular, Rob Johnson, head of customer unit regional carriers for Ericsson North America, state that while connecting the unconnected can be challenging enough “under normal circumstances,” the current state of things is making the task that much more difficult.

“Our teams have been working around the clock to ensure our customers’ networks can withstand shifts in bandwidth needs as people continue to work and use video conferencing from home and kids are attending classes online instead of in the classroom,” he concluded.

The FCC recently granted US Cellular’s request to operate additional spectrum licensed to Advantage Spectrum in the AWS-3 band for 60 days.

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