By: Gigaom
Sprint pays $480M for US Cellular spectrum, half a million customers
Sprint, which is in the process of getting majority owned by Softbank, has reached a deal with U.S. Cellular to buy up customers and spectrum in the midwest for $480 million.

Sprint, now poised to become majority owned by Japan’s Softbank, is adding to its spectrum resources by buying up $480 million worth of spectrum and customers from U.S. Cellular . The purchase, which also includes the assumption of “certain liabilities” will help Sprint improve its coverage in the midwest and boost its 4G LTE roll out.

Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of spectrum in St. Louis. The third-place carrier is also buying up 585,000 U.S. Cellular customers in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

U.S. Cellular is giving up about 10 percent of its subscriber base. It said it would continue to operate outside of the markets it is handing over to Sprint. The move should help it focus its operations on other markets, where it said it has a stronger position. It is planning on offering its own LTE 4G service to most of its customers this year.

The deal is expected to close by mid-2013, when the Sprint-Softbank deal is also expected to close. When it does, the Sprint and U.S. Cellular will start to transition U.S. Cellular users over to Sprint. U.S. Cellular said it will retain direct and indirect ownership in 560 towers and spectrum in the affected markets. After the deal closes, U.S. Cellular will also start moving out most of the 1,400 employees it has in the Chicago area, where the company is based.

Sprint continues to show that it wants to compete with giants Verizon and AT&T and a bulked up T-Mobile, which is merging with MetroPCS. The new deal will give Sprint a small boost in subscribers but it also shows just how important spectrum is to carriers, who can always use more spectrum as they roll out 4G service.

Stock Market XML and JSON Data API provided by FinancialContent Services, Inc.
Nasdaq quotes delayed at least 15 minutes, all others at least 20 minutes.
Markets are closed on certain holidays. Stock Market Holiday List
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
Press Release Service provided by PRConnect.
Stock quotes supplied by Six Financial
Postage Rates Bots go here