With the T-Mobile iPhone launch last month, and its merger with MetroPCS, you’d figure the cycle was nearly complete. However, there was one significant holdout: Chicago-based US Cellular and its nearly 6 million customers, mainly in the upper midwest. That holdout has ended. In a surprise announcement as part of its Q1 2013 earnings call, US Cellular announced it will be carrying Apple products later this year. US Cellular is known for its service and coverage in its home area. However, it has seen its profits and customer base shrinking in recent years.
Apple opened up the iPhone to regional carriers last year, but US Cellular infamously declined to carry it due to Apple’s terms. However, since almost every other carrier agreed to Apple’s terms in the meantime, this thaw in the relationship, as with T-Mobile, might be hardware-based. US Cellular has widespread deployment with LTE in its service areas. However, while USC uses a CDMA network compatible with Verizon and Sprint, its network runs on the band 12 lower 700mhz range. The A1429 CDMA supports band 12 Upper 700mhz for Verizon and band 25 1900mhz PCS-G for Sprint was well as several regionals that use those bands. It is possible that like Apple changing the A1428 to support band 4 HSPA+, Apple may be willing to support band 12 for LTE.
There’s no firm date other than “later this year”, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled and let you know when there’s something more definite. For those of you on US Cellular, would you be interested in buying an iPhone an your carrier? Anyone else in the coverage area, would you switch to US Cellular when it has the iPhone? Comment below.
US Cellular earnings press release