What the sale means to consumers
OF THE DEAL
Customers: U.S. Cellular says current customers will be treated the same during the transition and that it will “create a seamless” switch to Sprint. The sale, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the middle of next year. Sprint said it will provide more details on how the transition will work for U.S. Cellular customers at that time.
Competition: There will be one less competitor from which to choose a carrier. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular are the five largest wireless carriers offering contract-based service here. U.S. Cellular estimated Wednesday it has less than 4 percent market share in Chicago.
Prices: The sale could affect market prices. Citizens Utility Board, a Chicago-based consumer advocacy group, is worried about how consumers’ bills will ultimately be affected. “We’re always concerned about consolidation in the cellphone industry,” said spokesman Jim Chilsen. “We worry about what long-term impact this will have on customer prices in an industry that already is plagued by a lack of competition.”
Speed: The purchase by Sprint should boost data capacity and speeds. Sprint said the additional spectrum, or space on the airwaves, will help its new “4G LTE” network speed.