Sprint closes deal to buy US Cellular spectrum, adds 420,000 new customers

Sprint was clearly hungry for capacity when it bought spectrum from US Cellular last fall, and it's at last getting its fill -- some of it, at least -- by closing the deal today. The carrier has officially taken possession of 20MHz in airwaves across Midwestern cities like Champaign, Chicago and South Bend, as well as 10MHz in St. Louis. The customer handover isn't quite as grandiose as was mentioned in November, however: Sprint is ultimately adopting 420,000 US Cellular customers, rather than the originally claimed 585,000. It should be a relatively bump-free transition, no matter who's included in the group. Sprint expects the switch to take several months, and it's keeping the US Cellular network active while customers go hunting for discounted phones.

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Sprint Closes Transaction to Acquire U.S. Cellular Spectrum and Customers in the Midwest

Additional spectrum will significantly increase Sprint's network capacity and further improve the customer experience in Chicago, St. Louis and other Midwest markets

Wide variety of offers and incentives available to affected customers in impacted markets

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), May 17, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today completed its transaction with U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) to acquire 20MHz of PCS spectrum in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind., and Champaign, Ill., and 10MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market. The additional spectrum will significantly increase Sprint's network capacity and further improve the customer experience in these markets. In addition, the transaction includes approximately 420,000 U.S. Cellular customers.

Sprint and U.S. Cellular have already notified affected customers and Sprint will send them additional information on the exact timing and details of the transition which will last several months. Sprint and its Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and payLo prepaid brands are providing special offers and incentives for affected customers that significantly reduce the cost of acquiring a new device to transition from the U.S. Cellular network. In many cases, affected customers can switch from their current device to a similar or better Sprint or prepaid device for little or no cost and with a wide variety of contract or non-contract plans. Affected customers will not be charged an Early Termination Fee when switching their service. During the months-long transition period, U.S. Cellular's network will remain active and affected customers may continue to use U.S. Cellular for their wireless service while evaluating their options. For more information, affected customers can call 800-216-7023 or visit www.sprint.com/uscellular.

"We know how important good value, network performance and excellent service are to these customers and Sprint has a wide portfolio of competitive devices, prepaid options, an improved 3G and growing 4G LTE network experience, and unlimited data, text and voice plans to meet their wireless needs," said Paget Alves, Sprint chief sales officer. "We want their business and are motivated to make the transition as seamless as possible."