The small pool of rural wireless operators offering the iPhone 4S got a little bigger today, as Oklahoma-based Pioneer Cellular and Kansas-based Nex-Tech Wireless added their names to the list. This is the second time Pioneer Cellular has been in the news in the last week or so, as it announced April 30 that it was the first Verizon LTE in Rural America partner to launch LTE service.
Pioneer’s iPhone will not work with LTE, however. Instead it is designed for use with the carrier’s EV-DO network. Pioneer currently is not offering mobile handsets for use with LTE. Instead it offers a MiFi hot spot, a dongle for a personal computer and a fixed home router.
Nex-Tech’s release doesn’t specify what technology its iPhone works with but apparently it is a 3G technology.
Both Pioneer and Nex-Tech plan to sell the 16 GB iPhone for $150, while the 32 GB model will cost $250 and the 64 GB model will be priced at $350.
Pioneer’s monthly rates will range from $81.85 for 500 voice minutes and 2,048 MB of data to $113.85 for 1,000 voice minutes and 5,120 MB of data. All of Pioneer’s plans include unlimited short message service (SMS).
Nex-Tech’s lowest-cost monthly rate is $70 for 700 voice minutes and unlimited data but no SMS. The company also has three higher level tiers, which top out at $100 a month for 1,300 voice minutes and unlimited data and SMS.
Initially the popular iPhone was only available in the U.S. through AT&T. Verizon got its own version over a year ago and some other larger carriers also have obtained the device. But it wasn’t until October of last year that the product became available outside the tier 1 market, when C Spire acquired the device. Since then several other small carriers – including nTelos Wireless and Alaska Communications – have begun to offer the device.
Make that three. Kentucky-based rural operator Bluegrass Cellular also announced today that it is getting the iPhone 4S. Bluegrass also is a Verizon rural wireless partner but apparently it is getting a 3G version of the iPhone, as the company has not yet launched LTE.
Bluegrass iPhone 4S pricing is identical to that of Nex-Tech and Pioneer. Bluegrass also will offer an iPhone 4 for $49. Monthly rates range between $65 and $100 a month.
In addition, Nex-Tech President & CEO Johnie Johnson confirmed that Nex-Tech’s iPhone will operate on the company’s EV-DO network.