U.S. Cellular, C Spire get in on latest iPhone action

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U.S. Cellular and C Spire will be selling Apple's latest devices, but a few smaller carriers still are attempting to get access. (Pixabay)

Along with national carriers, U.S. Cellular and C Spire are among those offering Apple’s latest products, but selling Apple’s gadgets still isn’t a slam dunk for the nation’s smaller carriers.

With pre-orders starting Friday, U.S. Cellular said it will offer the latest products from Apple, including iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, as well as the new dual-camera iPhone 11. It’s also going to offer Apple Watch Series 5 with Always-On Retina display and the new seventh-generation iPad.

C Spire also announced that it will offer the latest products from Apple, with pre-orders starting Friday.

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Chicago-based U.S. Cellular is the fifth largest facilities-based wireless provider in the U.S. and C Spire, which is headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, is the sixth-largest wireless carrier. Both are members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), which represents Tier 2 and 3 carriers and will hold its annual convention in Providence, Rhode Island, next week.

Not a given

Most CCA members have access to Apple’s latest gadgets, but a few smaller carriers are attempting to get access to Apple devices, according to CCA President and CEO Steve Berry.

Historically, it has been more a question of whether or not Apple will sell to the smallest carriers. “We have found in the past that Apple does not always engage with the smallest carriers; scope and scale remain an impediment for some network operators,” he said in a statement provided to FierceWireless. “CCA is not involved in these business discussions, but we are hopeful that Apple will ensure that all carriers have access to their products, for the benefit of all consumers.”

RELATED: New iPhones support CBRS Band 48

Apple on Tuesday announced three new iPhones that run on its newest A13 Bionic chip, offering what Apple called the fastest CPU performance of any smartphone.

Apple isn’t introducing any phones with 5G yet, but with prices starting at $699 for the iPhone 11, it’s offering a discount to the previous iPhone XR model that was introduced a year ago. The new iPhones also have support for Wi-Fi 6 and the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) 3.5 GHz Band 48.

T-Mobile, which is also a member of the CCA, pointed out that the latest iPhones coming to T-Mobile will tap into its 600 MHz spectrum, as did the most recent iteration of the iPhone. Citing data from OpenSignal, T-Mobile said iPhones with the latest technology and 600 MHz are 25% faster than iPhones without it, and 600 MHz smartphones get nearly 52% more LTE coverage at T-Mobile that non-low band phones.  

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