US Cellular to Carry the iPhone

USCLogoWith 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


  1. Sarah says

    I’ve got ATT now, and as much as I don’t want to lose my number I’ve had since I was 16, now 28, I’ll switch to US cellular in a heartbeat as ATT has no 3G coverage in my small Western Illinois town and coverage is spotty at best in some places. Cannot wait for this to happen, finally finally. gLad I passed on getting a newer iPhone at the moment.

  2. Desitiney says

    I am super excited for the Iphone! I have been wanting one and Verizon is just too expensive plus, I love U.S. Cell.!

  3. matt says

    i am on the fence deciding on galaxy s4 or waiting for iphone but have been a lifer on us cell , sad to say seems they are on the downfall with quality of service just my opinion but hope iphone somehow brings them back towhat was super service


  4. Luke says

    As a former US Cellular customer in south central Wisconsin, I’d always said that I would go back to US Cellular if they carried the iPhone, and I will do so once this happens. I only left them because I wanted a smartphone at the time and they didn’t have much for offerings yet.

    US Cellular is the only wireless company where I feel like the service (both the voice/data and customer service) was worth the price I pay. The coverage is great, data is fast (I had an Android device, and it was smoking fast on USC), and the people at the stores and doing phone support weren’t total assholes – in fact, they were generally very helpful and could almost always fix my problem.

  5. Jay Emm says

    Count me in as someone who would switch back to US Cellular once the iPhone is available there. Say what you will about Apple’s iPhone, it is (in my very technically experienced opinion) the most cohesive and best experience in a smart phone. Apple haters are gonna hate, and ya can’t knock it ’til you try it. I had an Android based smartphone from US Cellular and in short, it was a dreadful experience, but US Cellulars network was always good to me. I switched to the mighty “V” when they got the iPhone.

  6. Benski says

    Jim McKay, the reason people are responding personally is because the author of the article asks that as questions in the last paragraph of the article..

    The reason U.S. Cellular exited the Chicago, central Illinois, and St. Louis markets was a simple spectrum issue. They only had 20mhz of PCS spectrum in Chicago and only 10mhz in St. Louis. They would have had to spend millions of dollars the secure spectrum in order to roll out LTE in those markets. Markets that were constantly their worst performing.

    I will be switching back to U.S. Cellular the first day they carry the iPhone. Their coverage and call quality in Wisconsin is vastly superior to any other wireless carrier. I have had service with AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular and now Verizon. Calls on U.S. Cellular almost sound like you are calling from a land line. In rural areas U.S. Cellular almost always has a strong signal and other carriers have no service or a very poor signal.

    U.S. Cellular is spending massive amounts (over $100 million) to refarm their 850mhz spectrum to LTE so they can support the iPhone. They have committed to purchase $1.2 billion (about 2 million) iPhones over 3 years. I hope it pays off.

  7. says

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  8. Jim McKay says

    It’s interesting how people respond to stories like this one with whether or not they are personally interested. But regardless, it’s plainly obvious that a significant (I didn’t say majority) portion of the phone buying public wants the iPhone. It will be good for USCellular.

    Being in Chicago, it is still shocking to so many USCellular customers that they are not only pulling out, but also pretty much having all customers buy new phones during the transition to Sprint. USC was rated favorite in the Chicago area. Although they don’t have to worry about the Chicago customers that they are dumping, the fact is that word of mouth could flow into and damage USC’s rep in areas that they will still serve.

  9. Peg says

    I am a legally blind person who, for all the years I have used cellphones, has had difficulty with being able to use all the features of the phones! While other carriers were getting blind user friendly devices (particulaly Verizon), US Cell did not! I called and pleaded with US Cell on this issue but they just didn’t seem to care! Many of my blind friends left US Cell once these devices became available. I couldn”t as in rural area which only wasreachable by US Cell. Verizon is better here by only spotty. I so want an iPhone as they are truly blind user friendlyAndroids withspeech just don’t cut it! About a half year ago I had heard Sprint had some $$$ and were buying to pony off of US Cell towers. I was extatic as Sprint sells the iPhone and I would change to Sprint and get an iPhone!!! Now I won’t have to leave my carrier and I can get the iPhone thru US Cell! as I don’t know when the “merger” will be as I”ve not heard anything on this since! So, BRAVO US Cellular! now all my blind friends will have to teach me how to use my iPhone when I get it!

  10. says

    I am a us cellular customer and have been waiting for the iphone. I will definately buy the new iphone as soon as it is released. The best service ever. :)

  11. TomInTulsa says

    My wife and eventually both my children were on US Cellular for over 10 years. I finally moved them all to my ATT plan because US Cellular didn’t have the iPhone. When I called to the numbers the US Cellulard person that ttried to get us to stay said “We hear it all the time” I don’t know why we don’t get the iPhone.

    My wife has hated the move to ATT – her coverage was MUCH better with US Cellular. Seems awful silly for them to be getting the iPhone now…too little too late. I bet the CEO is really feeling silly now…

  12. Timothy says

    In Eastern Iowa, Anamosa specifically, where USC is the ONLY carrier that receives service anywhere near and around this area; I would switch to USC immediately if the iPhone was available. At present, remain a highly dissatisfied AT&T iPhone 5 customer. I refuse to give up any of my “i…” products.

  13. Todd says

    I would switch to US Cellular in a heartbeat. Had them before switching to AT&T for the iPhone, and their coverage and service were great. AT&T has been less than satisfactory in both those areas.

  14. Joe says

    Couldn’t be less interested in the iPhone. I know a lot of people that will be happy about this though. Up here in Wisconsin US Cellular has far superior coverage to any of the other major carriers. The iPhone will bring a lot of people back and will keep a lot of the people who’ve been threatening to leave.
    I work as a Systems Analyst – Mobility supporting mobile devices for a pretty large company up here and this is big news. We get requests from users all the time about iPhone on US Cellular.

      • Joe says

        Yeah, I think there will be a lot of people considering that. Personally I love my Galaxy S3. The only way I get rid of it is for a Galaxy S4.

        Our company doesn’t support Android devices though so I’m a bit of an anomaly at my company. The only reason I get away with it is because of where I live. US Cellular is the only voice coverage I can get. Oddly enough US Cellular’s 4G doesn’t reach me. I get Verizon LTE on my iPad 3 just fine but my phone only gets 3G service from US Cellular. Having the voice coverage at my house is more important though since I have hi-speed internet and Wi-Fi.

        Hopefully my boss doesn’t force me to go to the iPhone when it comes out later this year. :)

        On a side note – the @USCellGetiPhone twitter account is going to have to be deactivated now. :)