Amazingly, Sprint's still
trying to keep pace with scrappy regional affiliates miffed in the aftermath of its merger
with Nextel; in many cases, the clear-cut violations of the non-compete clauses in place with the regionals have left the company with no option but to buy them
. Latest in the affiliate roundup is Northern PCS Services in a deal valued at $312.5 million, ending the war of words (and lawyers) that presumably would've ended with an even larger payout for the affiliate after years of drawn-out courtroom proceedings. Though Sprint's gotta feel good about putting another looming drama behind them, iPCS is still out there lying in wait
; no indication yet on whether Sprint's feeling a buyout there, too. Look for the Northern deal to close in Q3.