After news of that upcoming massive cash infusion from Softbank, it seems that Sprint is going on a big spending spree: it not only confirmed its plans to gain a majority stake in Clearwire, but news has just come in that Sprint is going to acquire US Cellular’s PCS spectrum and customers in the Midwest – namely in Chicago and St. Louis.
Sprint’s acquisition of parts of US Cellular also includes much of its Illinois market between Chicago and St. Louis, including Champaign, Springfield, and Effingham, all in Illinois. Sprint will also gain small chunks of US Celluar’s market in Indiana (specifically Benton Harbor, South Bend, and Fort Wayne), part of northwestern Ohio, and the St. Louis suburbs. In total, Sprint will gain about 585,000 customers from the transaction.
Sprint’s biggest spectrum gains will come in Chicago, where it has long struggled with having sparse spectrum resources and a large customer base, creating a poor experience for many Sprint customers there. Network conditions have also steadily deteriorated in many parts of central Illinois, while US Cellular has maintained a strong network and small but loyal customer base in this region. Therefore, Sprint customers in this entire area are set to benefit from this transaction.
US Cellular employees are not so lucky, however. The company plans to close most of its 171 stores and lay off most of its 950 employees in this region, which includes store and support staff.