Sprint "bet the company" on the iPhone with a US$20 billion payout to Apple, and C Spire Wireless is the first smaller, regional carrier approved to sell the device. In the wake of Sprint carrying the iPhone, the company has seen its best one-day sales ever. Even so, one smaller company's actually had the stones to turn Apple down at the negotiating table.
FierceWireless reports that U.S. Cellular turned down the iPhone because, according to CEO Mary Dillon, "terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint." Dillon said she believed U.S. Cellular's network was robust enough to handle the iPhone, and she remains open to carrying the handset in the future.
It's not clear exactly what it was about Apple's offer that Dillon found unacceptable, but it's worth noting the company has suffered a net loss of wireless customers for several quarters in a row, including a net loss of 23,000 customers in the last quarter alone.
U.S. Wireless still has 5.62 million customers, but given that the company will be moving to tiered data plans in the first half of next year, it's likely to lose even more customers unless it can offer them a compelling reason not to switch to another network. Offering the iPhone might be just the incentive the company needs to keep its customers from looking elsewhere, so it will be interesting to see how long it refuses to sell the device.