Remember when cellular providers were knocking down Apple’s door trying to get a piece of the iPhone? The exclusivity arrangment between Apple and AT&T was a sore spot among many carriers who couldn’t wait to get their hands on the most popular smartphone ever. There is one provider though who shrugs off the idea of bringing the iPhone to their customers, that is, until it supports LTE. U.S. Cellular’s CEO Ted Carlson told members of a UBS analyst conference that they are waiting for an iDevice that breaks a little more ground, something cutting edge. We can summate:
$cuttingEdge = $LTE;
The TDS owned U.S. Cellular admitted last month that they had been approached by Apple and offered the ability to carry a CDMA version of the iPhone, likely the same one Verizon offers now. Carlson states that the economics of the deal simply wouldn’t work with all of the subsidies required to ink a deal such as the one they were presented with by Apple.
While U.S. Cellular may be flexing, putting their bravado on stage right now, claiming they want something more bleeding edge, their biggest market, Chicago, will be left out in the cold. As brave as the notion sounds to stick your nose up at the iPhone, Carlson fails to mention that his company has no holdings in the 700 MHz band for Chicago, and chose to only purchase surrounding areas, a move that could end up coming back to haunt them in the end.
What they’ve essentially done is create a donut around their biggest profit machine, the hole being a void of LTE service right smack dab in the middle of Chicago. The proverbial “Munchkin” that could fill that hole is a long shot petition being submitted to the FCC by U.S. Cellular and Verizon, which would allow for the swap of out of date PCS spectrum space in exchange for more of the 700 Mhz band to be distributed. This one gamble could be life or death for U.S. Cellular’s hopes of running with the big boys.