UScellular Has Big Plans for 2021

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CEO Laurent Therivel is excited for his company as he points to undervalued growth opportunities across various regions as UScellular looks to gain a firmer grip of the marketplace. Speaking at a Citi event, Therivel stated, “We have a fantastic set of assets that we quite candidly have not been able to translate into growth in the last couple of years.” While customer metrics have fallen a little for UScellular, average revenue per unit (ARPU) is keeping the company stable, spending has been monitored, and there are many exciting areas in which the company should see strides. These include holding valuable spectrum including 5G mmWave, tower infrastructure, and a powerful network.

UScellular has an influence as a regional operator in various markets but its strongest presence is in Iowa and Wisconsin with 30% to 40% of the market share. In other markets including the Carolinas, the Northeast, Oklahoma, and the Pacific Northwest, UScellular claims market shares that are around the teens. These markets are what have Therivel most excited about the opportunity to grow their operations. “That’s no small task for us, but I fully expect that we can be able to do it,” said the CEO speaking on UScellular’s plans to take more market share. “…what you can expect from us operationally in 2021 is a pivot to growth.”

While efforts in mmWave 5G may be less in the immediate plans, UScellular still keeps this play as an option; however, there are multiple areas in which includes its B2B markets, consumer postpaid, and prepaid. These areas would not require the wireless provider to alter its capital spending and provide the opportunity to be more aggressive while maintaining a healthy ARPU. “We can afford to take different actions in different regions that our competitors might have a harder time doing, simply because of the nature of their contiguous footprint.”

But even if you have a great product to offer consumers, it can go by the wayside if consumers are not aware of what they are missing out on. Capturing additional revenue is important for Therivel, but he is aware of the company’s underperformance in marketing and brand awareness. The strategy going forward, because UScellular is still in a solid position thanks to its market share, will be to improve the marketing and he believes that this over promotions and excessive spending can win over more customers. As Therivel puts it, “I would much rather be in a position where I’m winning JD power awards and I have to go educate the customer about it than where I have a sub-par network and I have to go improve crazy amounts of capital to improve it.” UScellular’s B2B market share is not an area the company foresees spending an enormous amount of capital to grow in, but the company will be looking to Kimberly Green-Kerr, who was hired in September 2020, to grow its market share from the current position of 5% to 7%. Therivel has not outlined the exact goal of the company’s B2B efforts but recognizes that it should be “more than that.”

Before working for UScellular, Therivel was the Chief of AT&T Mexico where he helped organize the largest network sharing deal in Latin America for the company. This experience and the methods of other markets including Europe will help UScellular navigate new revenue streams from infrastructure partnerships while retaining ownership of its tower infrastructure. “The reason we did that is (that) it’s going to become increasingly expensive from a capital perspective to invest in this area,” said Therivel. With C-band spectrum playing a big role in the future of 5G and over $80 billion raised so far by the latest FCC auction, it is clear to see that the newest generation of wireless is indeed a revenue generator that will take serious capital to invest in.

Source: Fierce Wireless