US Cellular raised the prospect of a significant boost to rural 5G coverage from mmWave spectrum, following a trial with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

In testing conducted in Wisconsin using Ericsson hardware and a 5G CPE device based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 modem, the companies completed a 5G data call over a distance of more than 5kms (3.1 miles), with peak data rates exceeding 100Mb/s.

Though mmWave spectrum has delivered gigabit-range speeds in other operator trials, coverage was limited to several hundred metres.

US Cellular CTO Mike Irizarry hailed the demonstration as a “key strategic milestone in our 5G evolution”, predicting benefits for high-speed broadband service provision in rural and underserved communities.

The range achieved surpassed the 3.8kms Qualcomm and Ericsson hit in a test with Casa Systems in Australia in June, which they billed at the time as the “furthest ever” achieved.

US Cellular contracted Ericsson in July to help build a mmWave 5G network to supplement earlier low-band deployments. Irizarry previously told Mobile World Live the operator might be willing to trade peak data rates for extended range.