As is now becoming Apple’s standard practice, small regional and rural carriers won’t have to wait long after to launch to start selling the Apple’s two new iPhones this fall. U.S. mobile carriers Cellcom and C Spire on Monday separately revealed they would begin selling the iPhone 5s and 5c to customers starting Oct. 1.
If last year’s iPhone 5 launch was any indication, you should expect to see many more small operators and even big carrier prepaid brands like Virgin Mobile and MetroPCS make similar announcements in the next few days. Assuming Apple has the inventory to support them, the iPhone maker likely wants to get the new models into as many carriers’ — and thus as many consumers’ – hands as possible.
Chances are Cellcom, which serves northeast Wisconsin, and C Spire, which operates in several southern states, will offer the devices at the same subsidized prices as the big three contract operators. But as with the iPhone 5 last year, there will be limits to which networks the 5s and 5c support as more carriers start selling the devices.
C Spire has built its LTE networks in the Advanced Wireless Service Band used by T-Mobile, so it should be able to support LTE on the new iPhones. Cellcom built its 4G network as part of Verizon Wireless’s LTE in Rural America program, meaning it will use Verizon’s iPhone variants and be able to offer nationwide LTE service as part of its roaming agreement. But many smaller carriers are deploying their networks on an LTE unsupported on the new iPhones, which means they can only offer 3G connectivity.