U.S. Cellular has sold its Chicago clients.
Welcome to the Sprint/Nextel family, former "Cell" users. You won't be with us long.
In fact, I won't be with you much longer, but I digress.
Competition is furious in the cell phone market, and U.S. Cellular has given up on increasing its base in the Chicago area. The likes of Verizon and AT&T cannot be beaten, so the loser is folding up its smartphone tent and moving away.
They won't go empty handed.
U.S. Cellular made $480 million in the transaction, which will help them expand in another area where they have a chance to make it.
They are shrinking down now, with a long-range plan to grow in the future. That's what they did before, but they tried to grow in a market where there wasn't any room, so they've backtracked and are looking for a new route.
Their stockholders are not pleased with the concept, and the stock took a beating.
What of the clients who were sold away?
They'll soon be receiving all sorts of information from Sprint that will paint a glowing picture of quality service and hey, look, we have iPhones too.
Every contractor in the Chicago area had phone service with Nextel. The direct connect feature that made every cell phone a two-way radio was the key feature. Then Nextel was bought up by Sprint. Now every contractor in the Chicago area is leaving Sprint as soon as their contract expires, and looking to Verizon.
Sprint was eager to buy up 10% of U.S. Cellular's client base because Sprint is losing clients at an incredible rate. They haven't had any luck in keeping users by improving a system that is proving to be a dismal failure, so they're trying a new tactic. If they can just convince you to sign that two-year deal, they've got you for two years and maybe, just maybe, they'll fix the bugs that are driving Sprint clients to seek other service providers.
Intense competition has driven down the cost of cell phone services, but at the same time, that competition drives the weakest out of business until only the strong survive.
The Chicago White Sox will still play in U.S. Cellular Field. You just won't be able to get U.S. Cellular service there.
You may not really want Sprint service as a substitute.