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US Cellular's LTE network is ready, phones to come early next year

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US Cellular has announced that its LTE network is ready, but devices won't debut until the first quarter of 2012.

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US Cellular Logo
US Cellular Logo

The transition to 4G continues to pick up steam, with US Cellular announcing its LTE network is now ready to go — though devices won't debut until the first quarter of 2012. The announcement actually represents a minor setback for the sixth-largest US carrier, which had previously pegged November of this year as the launch date for its first LTE phones. The devices are still currently in testing, so users will have to wait. The CDMA carrier is partnering with King Street Wireless to bring its LTE capability to life, starting in six of the 26 states it currently covers: Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas, and Oklahoma. While it didn't reveal all of the "select cities" that will be covered, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Portland, Maine are among those to be getting first dibs.

The announcement comes as a number of regional carriers step up their high-speed data game: C Spire, the latest US carrier to board the iPhone 4S train, recently announced a network expansion that will help prepare for its LTE transition, and Cricket parent company Leap Wireless will have a test market up by the end of the year. With US Cellular's network already up and running, however, we expect it will have a big leg up in the coming year.