U.S. Cellular turned down Apple’s management, deciding against carrying the iPhone 4S because the Cupertino, California company’s terms of business were reportedly “unacceptable”, reports Fierce Wireless. The confirmation came from the highest authority, CEO Mary Dillon, during a third-quarter conference call with analysts:

Dillon said that the carrier had the opportunity to sell the iPhone but that Apple’s “terms were unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” Dillon added that the potential strain on the company’s network was not a factor in the decision, and that U.S. Cellular remains open to carrying the iPhone in the future.

The CEO reportedly remains open to carrying Apple’s phone in the future. U.S. Cellular isn’t exactly a nobody. The Chicago, Illinois-headquartered company is the nation’s sixth-largest wireless carrier, serving about 6.1 million customers in half the country’s states.

Nonetheless, this files as a slap in their face as rival C Span gets to carry the iconic handset beginning November 11. Czech carrier Telefónica Czech Republic AS also passed on iPhone 4S and dropped all prior iPhone models over “business terms”.

We know iPhone is “worth every penny”, but it’s also a big cash drain for cash-strapped companies that cannot afford waiting for years to recover billions in upfront subsidies to Apple (which are also higher than the industry average). No wonder Apple commands the highest margins in the biz and controls more than half the handset industry’s operating profits.

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