Peering into Wisconsin’s cellular crystal ball for 2012

AT&T

While I’ll be the first to admit the only reason I was initially an AT&T subscriber was because of the iPhone, I noticed some definite improvement in service quality during 2011. And apparently, that wasn’t just my imagination.  According to information just released by AT&T, the firm quietly spent nearly $20 billion on network enhancements around the country. In the first six months of 2011 AT&T previously announced they had invested over $100 million in their wireless and wireline networks here in Wisconsin. The level of dropped calls has gone down significantly and capacity has increased.

As someone who travels rather frequently around the state, I’ve noticed improvements in the Eau Claire area as well as the Fox Cities. Kudos to AT&T for taking solid, needed steps to improve its reputation – now bring 4G to Wisconsin and I might become an even bigger fan.

US Cellular

Customers of US Cellular are definitely looking forward to 2012, and with good reason.  This carrier has a planned rollout of its own 4G LTE service in select Wisconsin cities. Among those identified for the first wave of LTE rollout are Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, according to information from US Cellular.

However, US Cellular customers might want to take a wait-and-see approach to this news. It’s unclear whether US Cellular will meet this timeline – they’ve already delayed the project a few times.

Verizon

It was a rough year for Verizon, a carrier that racked up five service outages during 2011.  But at the same time, Verizon also has held its own in Wisconsin with the development of Verizon’s LTE, which has brought 4G to Wisconsin’s major metro areas.

It would be nice to see this coverage expand elsewhere in the state beyond the usual suspects – Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and the Fox Cities. Folks up in western Wisconsin have it, thanks to spillover from the Twin Cities. In late 2011, Verizon made an incredibly smart move by activating a 4G tower in the Dells, a great addition in a spot that isn’t know for strong cell service.

T-Mobile

Of course, the big news for 2011 was the proposed merger of T-Mobile and AT&T, which has failed. I’m curious to see how T-Mobile will rebound in 2012.

Sprint

Now that this provider has given up WiMax for LTE, will they be able to keep the pace with other providers on build out? I think we’ll know the answer in 2012.

Cellcom

As a smaller regional provider, the biggest question for Cellcom in 2012 is whether it can keep going on its own … or will it get gobbled up by a larger provider?

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