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Analyst: For Innovation Look to Smaller Companies Like Cellular South and US Cellular

Everyone is talking about this years Consumer Reports study on cell phones that was released yesterday.  We quickly made the rounds with big dog AT&T being called the worst carrier by Consumer Reports, but did you see who the best was? No not one of the big 4 carriers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile ) But US Cellular, a regional carrier.

Big city folk tend to forget that in a lot of the country there are still regional carriers that are striving on their own with new pricing structures, quicker network improvements and securing an assortment of phones that match the regions needs, not just what the rest of the country “wants”. It’s this logic that long time industry analyst Jeff Kagan was reffering to when he said:

“The big players are not the real innovators,” according to Jeff Kagan, an Atlanta-based telecommunications and wireless industry analyst. “It’s more fitting to think of them as “fast followers.” They look for the ideas they think will work, or the ideas they need, but they are not the innovators. That crown goes to the smaller and lesser-known companies. If you want to know what the industry will look like tomorrow, check out what companies like U.S. Cellular and Cellular South are doing today.”

US Cellular recently announced a new shift in plans and pricing that went against the grain of the major carriers. Regional carier Metro PCS was actually the FIRST US Carrier to offer LTE, not Verizon! Back in Missisipi the nations largest individually owned wireless carrier, Cellular South, was making noise of their own.

In just the past four weeks Cellular South has announced an LTE partnership and roll out with Samsung Telecommunicatoins America (Samsung Mobile) to provide LTE service in 2011 with 2 handsets. It’s important to note Samsung is using an open architecture whereas you don’t have to have a Samsung phone to get LTE there will more than likely be other manufacturers in the Cellular South LTE offerings. But WAIT there’s more.  Cellular South also added a Samsung Galaxy S variant to their line up. Samsung just announced they were the #1 supplier of Android phones in the United States, and the Samsung Galaxy S was just named the best device in the same Consumer Reports study referenced above.  But Wait there’s more.. Cellular South also annpunced an iPhone buy back program, bring in your iPhone get a $100 off the smart phone of your choice.

Cellular South’s Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Hankins explains why Cellular South is in such a great position:

“With six Android devices, an impressive Blackberry line-up, Cellular South’s industry-leading Smartphone Unlimited Plan for just $79.99 and its advanced and reliable high-speed broadband network, new customers can take comfort knowing that they’re saving money, improving their overall experience and receiving superior service that the competition doesn’t offer,” Hankins said.

With smaller regional carriers decisions and ideas are often implemented in one building or at least one geographic area. All of the initiatives above show clear examples of how you don’t have to wait for paper to get pushed for months to make an idea work.  Everything from network issues to plans to promotions even apps can be discussed and ideas implemented easier at the smaller carriers, which translates to better scores in things like Consumer Reports surveys.  Cellular South even launched their own app discovery tool, again with customer truly first.

Source: Business Wire / TDG

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