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U.S. Cellular advances 5G strategy with purchases of millimeter wave spectrum

CHICAGO, June 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Cellular Corporation (USM) successfully bid for high frequency spectrum in recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Millimeter Wave Spectrum Auctions and purchased licenses covering 98 percent of its subscribers for $256.0 million or 1.7 cents per MHz pop. 

In the 28 GHz Auction (Auction 101), the company spent $129.4 million or 2.1 cents per MHz pop acquiring 408 licenses covering 60 percent of its subscriber base with at least 425 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum. 

In the 24 GHz Auction (Auction 102), the company spent $126.6 million or 1.5 cents per MHz pop acquiring 282 licenses covering 93 percent of its subscribers. 

Together the auctions allowed U.S. Cellular to acquire at least 300 MHz of spectrum in markets that serve 97 percent of its customer base.

"Our 5G network strategy envisions the use of a variety of spectrum bands over time," said Kenneth R. Meyers, U.S. Cellular president and CEO. "Our initial 5G deployment will be on our 600 MHz spectrum to provide enhanced broadband speed and capacity over our entire footprint with the expectation that we will be able to augment it with mid and high band spectrum over time as the technology and use cases continue to evolve.  With our success in the millimeter wave auctions, we can now cover most of our subscribers with at least 300 MHz of millimeter wave licenses which will enable U.S. Cellular to provide its customers with the leading edge capabilities 5G is promising." 

Meyers continued, "We applaud the FCC for conducting these millimeter wave auctions and fully support their efforts to bring mid-band spectrum to the marketplace quickly.  Spectrum is the lifeblood of this industry as we continue to ensure that we can meet the growing demand for data services, as well as create new opportunities for new services requiring high speed, reliability and low latency." 

"Network quality has always been the foundation of our strategy," said Michael S. Irizarry, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.  "As we continue our multi-year network modernization plan and increase the speed and performance of our network, we are readying our network with the foundational network elements to deliver innovative services for our customers." 

About U.S. Cellular
United States Cellular Corporation provides a comprehensive range of wireless products and services, excellent customer support, and a high-quality network to customers with 5.0 million connections in 21 states. The Chicago-based company had 5,500 full- and part-time associates as of March 31, 2019. At the end of the first quarter of 2019, Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. owned 82 percent of U.S. Cellular. For more information about U.S. Cellular, visit uscellular.com.

Safe Harbor Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995:  All information set forth in this news release, except historical and factual information, represents forward-looking statements. This includes all statements about the company's plans, beliefs, estimates, and expectations. These statements are based on current estimates, projections, and assumptions, which involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Important factors that may affect these forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: intense competition; the ability to execute U.S. Cellular's business strategy; uncertainties in U.S. Cellular's future cash flows and liquidity and access to the capital markets; the ability to make payments on U.S. Cellular indebtedness or comply with the terms of debt covenants; impacts of any pending acquisitions/divestitures/exchanges of properties and/or licenses, including, but not limited to, the ability to obtain regulatory approvals, successfully complete the transactions and the financial impacts of such transactions; the ability of the company to successfully manage and grow its markets; the access to and pricing of unbundled network elements; the ability to obtain or maintain roaming arrangements with other carriers on acceptable terms; the state and federal telecommunications regulatory environment; the value of assets and investments; adverse changes in the ratings of U.S. Cellular debt securities by accredited ratings organizations; industry consolidation; advances in telecommunications technology; pending and future litigation; changes in income tax rates, laws, regulations or rulings; changes in customer growth rates, average monthly revenue per user, churn rates, roaming revenue and terms, the availability of wireless devices, or the mix of services and products offered by U.S. Cellular. Investors are encouraged to consider these and other risks and uncertainties that are discussed in the Form 8-K Current Report used by U.S. Cellular to furnish this press release to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are incorporated by reference herein.

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