U.S. Cellular backs Microsoft's Windows Phone 8

Carrier joins AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in backing the platform
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U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) became the latest U.S. carrier to support Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 operating system, joining a growing chorus of operators that plan to champion it as a third smartphone ecosystem against Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

U.S. Cellular spokesman Steve Carlson confirmed a statement the company first gave to PC Magazine. "We believe in giving our customers the latest technology and device options and we are excited about the Windows 8 phone," the company said. "It will be an important part of our device lineup going forward."

Carlson declined to comment on when the carrier will launch its first Windows Phone devices and if they will be LTE-capable. U.S. Cellular launched its LTE network earlier this year and plans to cover 50 percent of its customers with LTE by the end of the year. U.S. Cellular currently covers 92.6 million total POPs with its network footprint.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) have all voiced support for Windows Phone 8 and plan to launch devices this fall.

Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), which said in May it was in final discussions with Microsoft and unnamed device vendors to sell prepaid Windows Phone 8 devices sometime later this year or early next year, was more equivocal, saying, "we have said that we want to offer customers a range of choices regarding phones, plans and operating systems." Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) also seemed to be taking a wait-and-see approach and did not tip their hands.

For Microsoft, getting strong and sustained carrier support (and marketing) for the new version of the platform will be crucial to generating interest among consumers. So far, AT&T and T-Mobile have been the biggest U.S. supporters of Windows Phone, though Verizon has said it wants to do for Windows Phone what it did for Android several years earlier in terms of sparking consumer desire.

As PC Mag noted, since Windows Phone launched in the fall of 2010, there have only been two CDMA Windows phones: the HTC Trophy for Verizon and HCT Arrive for Sprint, which U.S. Cellular sold as the HTC 7 Pro.

For more:
- see this PC Magazine article

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