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US Cellular pressured to sell to larger carrier

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Fri March 13, 2009

US Cellular may Sell Self

US Cellular's owner TDS is being pushed to sell the company to a major carrier, multiple sources have said to Reuters. Shareholder groups like Gamco Investors and Southeastern Asset Management are both claimed to be pressuring TDS to open itself to deals in the face of crumbling market share and a likely inability to upgrade its network beyond its current 3G speeds. The two financiers combined hold nearly 30 percent of TDS' stock and so may lead a proxy war to force management to strike a deal.

The company publicly denies the claims and says it plans to move quickly to 4G through the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, like larger carrier Verizon, as it has the resources to make these upgrades and remain competitive. "We've got $800 million in cash and cash equivalents, we're not being pressed financially," TDS spokesman Mark Steinkrauss maintains.

Any such takeover would accelerate already rapid consolidation in the US cellphone market and likely give major carriers coverage in areas that were previously difficult to service. US Cellular is the largest regional carrier in its namesake country but is now increasingly outsized by fellow CDMA carriers like Verizon, which formally bought out Alltel at the start of this year and GSM carriers like AT&T, which bought regional provider Centennial.

Customers have lately been defecting away from US Cellular in part because of its phone selection, which regularly trails behind larger carriers. It only just got a rough iPhone equivalent in the Samsung Delve by late 2008.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    +10

    Smaller is better

    I like smaller regional carriers because they actually seem to CARE about their customers and support, especially in smaller markets.

    My carrier has tech support staff that is actually in my state, and they know the names of the rural towns I travel through and can take care of issues that may arise. A national carrier could care less if there is good coverage in a town of 500 people. It's just not worth it to them.

  1. Kohlerslave

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2001

    -7

    bjojade

    While most of what you say makes sense, I'm a US Cellular customer and they could usually give a rats you know what about us as customers. Their selection of phones sucks, their plans suck and the support sucks. I'd move somewhere else, but I'm still locked into an expensive contract that they don't care about.

  1. zehspoon1

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2007

    +4

    Service

    Being with US Cellular for over 15 years, we have been happy with their service and plans. No, they don't have the most fancy phones but then again I would take service over all the latest gadgets.

  1. DarkVader

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2001

    -9

    US Hellular

    I really don't care if they do get absorbed by one of the big ones. They have worse customer service than Sprint, worse coverage than AT&T, treat their employees horribly, and are generally garbage.

    I dumped them for Cingular/ATT years ago, they need to just go away.

  1. Schatz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    -2

    Shocked

    I have had them for 15 years. They have had the best customer service. I now have an iPhone/ATT and there is no comparison. I still have 4 Family lines on US Cell and they remain the best. Their phones are more basic, but coverage in rural areas is far better and much better CSRs.

    iPhone of course far cooler than US Cell choices.

    I buy Cell phone service for work, blackberry, broadband cards etc for about 40 people. I wish I could choose US Cell.

    AT&T is just ok, Verizon a little better, T_M the worst-almost n****.

  1. Susan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2002

    +5

    I love US Cellular

    I was a US Cellular customer for over 11 years and very happy with their service and coverage. Their customer support was stellar. I was forced to AT&T when I bought my iPhone, which has poor coverage in my area and nowhere near the quality of customer support I got from US Cellular. I'm sorry they're struggling.

  1. Susan

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2002

    +4

    I love US Cellular

    I was a US Cellular customer for over 11 years and very happy with their service and coverage. Their customer support was stellar. I was forced to AT&T when I bought my iPhone, which has poor coverage in my area and nowhere near the quality of customer support I got from US Cellular. I'm sorry they're struggling.

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