US Cellular will start carrying Apple products sometime later this year, the company revealed today during a quarterly earnings report. It hasn't identified which hardware it will be offering, or any special subscription plans. Devices will presumably include the iPhone and/or cellular-equipped iPad models. The carrier could, in theory, be in a position to help launch the so-called iPhone 5S this fall
, as well as a fifth-generation iPad, second-generation iPad mini, and possibly even an Apple smartwatch
, if it comes with any cellular functions.
US Cellular doesn't have nationwide coverage, but it does have a presence in 26 states, and had about 5.8 million subscribers in 2012. It is also in the middle of deploying an LTE network, which it will need not only for the sake of Apple devices but most modern smartphones.
Getting Apple products could be essential for the carrier's survival. Carriers without the iPhone have often seen their financial performance suffer until they sign a deal. National providers AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile already carry Apple devices; a number of regional and prepaid carriers are selling the iPhone specifically.