The iPhone has come to epitomize the exclusive handset regime that is the bane of smaller, regional, and rural wireless carriers. Tier 1 national carriers gain exclusive rights to the hottest handsets and leverage them for competitive advantage. Four years after the launch of the first iPhone on AT&T, it will finally make it to a carrier that is not one of the big four national tier 1 carriers.

C Spire (formerly Cellular South) announced today they will soon launch the new iPhone 4S. They offered few details on exactly when, just saying “in the coming weeks.” Does this C Spire development mean the iPhone will make it to even smaller rural wireless providers?

Now that the iPhone comes in both GSM and CDMA versions, one would think the options should expand for all. But maybe this is a classic case of be careful what you ask for.

If the deal that brought the iPhone to Sprint is any indication of what smaller carriers will need to accept, they may want to pass. It’s widely reported that Sprint had to commit to 30 million iPhone sales to the tune of a $20 billion commitment to get that access, leading some anaysts to ask whether Sprint ‘bet’ the whole company on the iPhone. Did C Spire have to do a similar, albeit proportional to their market reach, deal?


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One thought on “iPhone Finally Makes It to Smaller, Regional Carrier

  1. Go into one of the small "regional carriers'" store and you'll find phones from 2, 3, or 4 years ago, vintage models. This is perfect example of the Digital Divide, with today's most modern phones only available on the "major carriers" in the large cities.

    These small carriers are the ones who are doing the big work filling in the gaps in between the major cities, building the TRUE NATIONWIDE networks, insuring that your phone does not drop to No Service the instant you cross the city limits of a major city on your way to the next one. And yet, the manufacturers refuse to offer their newest phones to these small carriers, despite the fact that a lot of these carriers have systems that are more technologically up to date than in the big cities. Just wrong.

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