U.S. Cellular announces plans to carry Apple products later this year

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U.S. Cellular, the Chicago-based carrier serving around 5.8 million customers in 126 markets, will likely start offering the iPhone later this year, possibly in addition to other iOS devices. The carrier announced today in its first quarter results that it will soon begin carrying Apple products, but didn’t provide any further information regarding when or what specific products it might launch:

“We have a number of strategies in progress to increase loyalty and attract more customers, including our announcement today that we will begin offering Apple products later this year. By further strengthening our device portfolio, we’ll give consumers another great reason to switch to U.S. Cellular, and enable our existing customers to choose from an even wider variety of iconic smartphones, and enjoy the outstanding U.S. Cellular customer experiences they deserve. Our smartphone penetration is currently 43 percent of core market customers and growing quickly. We believe there will be strong, ongoing demand for smartphones and data products and services from our customers, and we have significant room for growth in this area.

You might remember a couple years back U.S. Cellular claimed it said no to the iPhone 4S with CEO Mary Dillon at the time saying Apple’s “terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” Later, CEO of the cellular provider’s parent company TDS hinted that the carrier would wait until Apple unveiled an LTE capable device, which was of course before the unveiling of Apple’s LTE iPhone 5.

After it decided not to carry the iPhone 4S, it soon after launched its Wonderphone ad campaign that were seen by many as mocking the iPhone.

U.S. Celluar today reported service revenues for the first quarter of $996.3 million and noted that it plans to roll out its 4G LTE service to 87 percent of its subscribers this year. The carrier also said it plans to close its $480 million deal to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and other markets to Sprint in the second quarter of 2013.  Read more

Sprint buys $480M in spectrum/customers from US Cellular, FCC fines AT&T $700K for overbilling

A couple carriers are making headlines today for different reasons. Sprint, which could soon be scooped up by Softbank, announced today (via Engadget) it is spending $480 million to acquire PCS spectrum and 585,000 customers from U.S. cellular across the Midwest. As always, the deal is subject to approval from government officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, but Sprint could take over the spectrum and customers in “parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio including the Chicago and St. Louis markets” by sometime next year:

Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of PCS spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market.

AT&T is also making the news today with the FCC announcing the carrier will pay a $700,000 fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into how the carrier handled its transition to mandatory monthly data plans (via BGR). The investigation followed complaints from consumers that AT&T had switched them from grandfathered pay-as-you-go plans to its new monthly plans as far back as 2009. According to the FCC, as part of the settlement, AT&T “has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25 to $30 a month, depending on data use”: Read more

Report: Judge who dismissed Apple’s case against Motorola disputes legal protection for tech industry

Reuters interviewed the U.S. judge today who dismissed Apple’s patent court case against Motorola, and the details behind the jurist’s reasoning for tossing the lawsuit are as interesting as they are controversial.

Richard Posner sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and disputes whether software and related tech industries should even have patents for their products.

“It’s not clear that we really need patents in most industries,” said Posner, referring to the slew of features in smartphones that are legally protected. “You just have this proliferation of patents. It’s a problem.”

Posner, 73, argued the pharmaceutical industry better deserved protection for its intellectual property because of the, as Reuters coined it, “enormous investment it takes to create a successful drug.” He tossed Apple’s lawsuit against Google’s Motorola Mobility last month and denied an injunction against the sale of Motorola devices using Apple’s patented technology.

The judge attributed Apple’s scramble to attack competitors allegedly using its technology to a “constant struggle for survival.”

“As in any jungle, the animals will use all the means at their disposal, all their teeth and claws that are permitted by the ecosystem,” Posner contended.

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Which iPhone carrier has the fastest network in your area? AT&T, Verizon, & Sprint get accurate comparison by city

The argument over which carrier has the fastest network speed in any given location in the United States is still up for debate. Putting network speed comparisons aside, which are often not an accurate representation of speeds, you will receive in your specific area, a new app from startup SwayMarkets aims to provide a more realistic comparison.

The app, CarrierCompare, allows users to test the network speed of their current carrier against the two other major iPhone providers. CNNMoney went hands-on when the app released last month and just posted the user data it obtained that compares major iPhone carriers in multiple locations.

Analyzing user-generated data from Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, these were the results:

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MacMall opening up more retail stores in Huntington Beach on Saturday and Chicago in February

Conventional wisdom once was that as Apple expanded its retail footprint, Apple resellers would fall by the wayside.  And that has happened to a certain extent, plus stores like CompUSA and Circuit City have folded.

Fortunately, other retailers have been able to succeed alongside Apple by offering differentiated services.

One of our favorite Apple resellers, MacMall, is expanding their retail stores to Huntington Beach, California this Saturday and Chicago, Illinois in the coming months. Currently, the retailer has a booming online store coupled with two retail stores in Santa Monica and Torrance that are also seeing success, the company said in a press release sent out today. The Huntington Beach store opens this Saturday, December 10th with some pretty killer deals (seen after the break). MacMall’s Chicago store, located 321 West Grand Avenue, will be seeing a later January/February opening.

We hear that MacMall is even shopping for some space in Manhattan, alongside one of our other favorite resellers, Tekserve.

MacMall, naturally can offer more to customers than Apple Stores with their unscheduled technical support, broader range of accessories (even a few PCs and Android tablets), and most importantly “online prices in a retail store”. We often tip you guys on MacMall’s awesome deals, so we’re certainly familiar with some of the deals they carry.  As you can see below, they offer so many more accessories than an Apple Store (iPhone Alarm Clocks, standalone GPS, Photoframes, Cameras, etc, etc).

MacMall says Apple has encouraged them to keep expanding to more stores and with over $100 million in Apple product sales this year, that isn’t hard to believe.

At the Huntington Beach store’s grand-opening on Saturday, the first 300 people to visit the store will be entered to win free Apple TVs, MacBook Airs, iPod touchs, and iPod Nanos. Early shoppers will have a 1 in 22 chance of taking home some free holiday gifts.

Press release and circular follow:

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