Sprint buys Midwest customers and spectrum from US Cellular for $480 million


US carriers Sprint and US Cellular have announced a spectrum sale between the two that will see the former selling key Midwest spectrum to the latter for $480 million. For that price, Sprint will take control over the PCS spectrum in areas like Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. The Midwest is US Cellular’s biggest breeding ground so it’s a very significant deal to behold.

Sprint is also said to be receiving US Cellular’s customer base in those areas, though how many new contracts they’ll be snapping up isn’t being disclosed at this time. The deal is expected to close at some point in 2013, and there doesn’t appear to be any worry about resistance.

This is good news for Sprint which is banking on a “network vision” movement that will deliver a vast LTE network to its consumers by 2013’s end, and will also have considerable impact on the performance of its current 3G and voice networks.  Considering how bad the network has gotten for many users in this region I’d say this purchase couldn’t have come at a better time.

Sprint will apparently pay cash for the deal, and will assume any liabilities that may come with it. The company no doubt has the assets to do so considering it was just bought out by SoftBank Corp. last month for $20.1 million, and received $3 billion out of that last month.

Cash flow was never a huge concern for Sprint even before this network vision project took off so there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the carrier can complete it now (and within the time frame that was originally promised). More details have yet to roll in, but we won’t need them until it’s confirmed whether or not the deal will close at some point next year.

[via Business Week]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Those states are nowhere near the mid west.

    1. You need remedial map reading skills if you think that.

      1. Actually, if we were to go just by looking at a map, DethBySnooSnoo would be correct. The states listed would be more central to mid eastern.

    2. i dont know about the “no where near” part. I used to live in missouri, and that is considered mid west, and that shares a border with one of the states listed above. Sooo even if it isnt 100% correct for all the states, it isnt too far off.

  2. I work all over Southern Indiana and can pretty much listen to the Tune In Radio App on my S3 everywhere. The only spots I’m hitting 4G so far are around Indianapolis. Hopefully this will speed up the network upgrades all the way back home to Louisville. Maybe well see 4G before LTE 2 goes mainstream! LOL

  3. I hear you Jeff. My point is most of those states are not in the mid west. Nowhere near the mid west. We need to drop these 200 year old sayings and terms because they no longer apply.

    It’s greatly OT I know. I will drop it :)

    1. Hey, we are Midwest! Get used to it! :)

      1. Coastline or GTFO ;)

        1. Chicago is on the coast! …right? :P

        2. The state with the most coastline is Michigan. You were saying? ??

          1. Saltwater. Your move. :p

            Also: coastline denotes the end of a continental plate.

  4. I would love if Sprint just bought USCC in its entirety with all its towers so I could get reasonable signal in Wisconsin again. USCC has a great network here (with their largest LTE footprint – and one can actually get signal in a home depot or other large business) whereas Sprint’s is ailing…badly. Their devices have identical banding (as I understand it), it would be an easy tower switch over the weekend. :)

    1. I agree 100%! The Fox Valley has excellent Sprint coverage, although 3G speeds are slower than they used to be. US Cellular’s holdings can only make it better.

      I also wish Sprint would come up with a spectrum sharing agreement with Cellcom. You can get Cellcom coverage pretty much anywhere in the state.

      1. Yep! Here in the Fox Valley we got some awesome signal!

  5. hope this reaches southern wisconsin, my sprint service is rotten here. and for being in the states capitol city, thats kinda lame…

    1. Yea it seems southern Wisconsin (I’m a native) is a huge problem area for Sprint, and since USCC has great coverage here this might be a very important gap they need.

    2. The rural La Crosse area would be a nice addition. My girlfriend has USCC and she gets great coverage, while my Sprint phone is usually roaming on USCC at 1x. Where we live in the Fox Valley it is the opposite situation. I have excellent Sprint coverage while sometimes she has problems with USCC.

  6. After lost the opportunity to buy MetroPCS…

  7. I wonder how many US Cellular customers are freaking out right now?

  8. Just got off the phone with Sprint. They confirmed my suspicion that any existing US Cellular devices will NOT be compatible with the new network after the switch. All US Cellular customers in affected areas will be required to purchase new phones.

    I feel bad for any US Cellular customers in the affected area who recently upgraded, and would recommend they take advantage of the return period if it’s not too late.

    I’m really glad that I decided to wait to see any black Friday/Christmas sales before I upgraded to the Note 2. I’ll still be looking for sales on it, but won’t be looking at US Cellular’s sales.

    I’m just happy my contract expired some time ago so I can leave early. I’ve heard from others that they aren’t letting people in the affected areas out of their contract early without paying the ETF (though they’ll have to offer that option once the deal goes through).

    1. Any US Cellular rep who provided that info should be fired. First, they should not be commenting on a pending merger. Second, the two networks use the same technologies and frequencies (exclusive of 4G), but there’s still a lot of unknowns about the final deal.

  9. Well in Houston, their 3G service sux and their WiMax isn’t all that reliable. I still have a year left to upgrade. I want to purchase an LTE phone now, but I don’t know if their LTE coverage is reliable. And I’d lyk to fall on a 3G that has constant 2Mb speeds if I don’t have any LTE. Lyk Tmo. =.D

    Hmm… I hope Sprint can pick things up with their mediocre 3G speeds. That’s what their problem is. They have to remember that if we don’t get that 20Mb LTE, we fall on a .5 3G network and that’s just a godly large gap. =.S

  10. Oh, Sprint. Start moving faster if you want to stay relevant.

  11. Wasn’t it 20.1 billion dollars…not million?

  12. too late…I live in Indianapolis and I’ve been with Sprint for just 2 months shy of 15 years. I bought the HTC Evo with promises for 4G in the “near future”. Nearly 2 years later, I upgraded to the HTO Evo Design with the same promises. Now almost another year later, I’m still waiting for 4G. Even a SuperBowl did not convince Sprint to put in LTE in the 12th most populous city…but it did for Verizon and AT&T. The local newspaper rated the 4 big carriers on networks last Spring, Sprint was dead last…like last in lapped by all other 3 carriers. Service is reliable but dreadfully slow. The delay in ICS delivery just added to my ire for Sprint. Then, ICS rolled out and practically bricked my phone with bugs, latency and unresponsiveness. So with that, I say “Adieu, Sprint”. I’m going with a nexus or unlocked phone from here.

  13. Good thing I waited to upgrade, too. This is a perfect opportunity for me to take advantage of the 96-cent S3 at Sams Club this Black Friday.

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