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U.S. Cellular not sweating competition

With Verizon’s purchase of Alltel, it’s only natural to wonder about the fates of other regional carriers. Will other carriers want to consolidate and pick up some more pieces to their spectrum puzzle? If they do, there might be no better target than U.S. Cellular. They are the nation’s No. 6 wireless provider, soon to be No. 5 by default once Alltel is assimilated into Verizon. But they don’t

“We have competed against Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile–all the nationals–for years, and to a lesser degree, we’ve competed against Alltel,” said U.S. Cellular spokesman, Mark Steinkrauss. “Is it going to be any different? I don’t think so.”

“We’re owner-operated. We always have been,” Steinkrauss explained, referring to U.S. Cellular’s Chicago-based parent company, Telephone and Data Systems Inc., which is controlled by its founders, the Carlson family. “We’re doing a good job driving the company forward. We have all sorts of financial flexibility.”

That, of course, could change at any time. In fact, for all we know, they could be talking to Sprint Nextel right now about a merger (no, they’re probably not). The more regional carriers we have the better. So here’s to U.S. Cellular sticking around for a while.