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Old 02-18-2004, 10:19 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: U.S.A.
Posts: 32,875
What happened to Cellular One and U.S. Cellular?

Back in the early 1990s, the cellular telephone system in the United States was a little more regulated. Each territory was assigned two slots for cellular providers -- one was usually taken up by the local incumbent local exchange carrier and the other was opened up for independent cellular providers. So far as I remember, there were two major brands of cellular service -- Cellular One and U.S. Cellular. If I remember correctly, one of them was merely a franchised brand name while the other was an actual nation-wide provider.

Today we don't see these brands any more among the cellular providers -- Verizon, AT&T, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, Nextel. I assume they got swallowed up by one of the modern players. Does anyone have any more specific information about what happened to Cellular One and U.S. Cellular?
Old 02-18-2004, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Vermont
Posts: 9,851
Cellular One renamed themselves UniCell. Actually, a UniCell employee told me that the UniCell name had been in use longer than the Cellular One name, and the company decided to consolidate all their operations under the one name. However, this was a renaming, not a merger or buyout.

So Cellular One still exists, it's just called UniCell.

(slight hijack -- rather a habit of mine, I'm afraid)

Cellular One seems to me to be a somewhat better name to market your a under: Cellular One -- OK, I get it, the One to go to for cellular services. Unicel? A one-celled animal?

What were the marketroids thinking? Or were they thinking?
Old 02-18-2004, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Middle of the Midwest
Posts: 2,314
US Cellular is alive and kicking, here in the midwest at least. Joan Kusak is their celebrity spokeswoman.

US Cellular
Old 02-18-2004, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 12,664
U. S. Cellular definitely exists, they just bought the naming rights to the Chicago White Sox stadium a years or so ago.

(not that any White Sox fan calls it anything but New Comiskey).
"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible. The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective
Old 02-18-2004, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 64
Cellular One became AT&T Wireless and Cingular.

In the early days, there was a "B" carrier and an "A" carrier in each market. The "B" license automatically went to the local telco if they wanted it. If not, it was available to someone else.

The "A" license was there to make sure the local telco had some competition in the fledgling industry. To market their collective interests, many of the "A" carriers created a brand name to market under called "Cellular One". In addition to many upstart companies, "A" side licenses were also held by Telco's that operated out of market--for instance in Chicago, the "A" license was held by Southwestern Bell (later SBC), who rather than using the Southwestern Bell name, used Cellular One as the marketing name.

Eventually, one of the largest "A" side carriers, McCaw Communications, sold out to AT&T who rebranded their Cellular One properties as AT&T Wireless. Fast forward about 8 years later, and as consolidation began to happen, Bell South and SBC decided to consolidate their businesses. Rather than use the Cellular One name, which I believe they each used in different markets along with Southwestern Bell and Bell South Mobility, they rebranded everything as "Cingular".
Old 02-18-2004, 01:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: CO
Posts: 1,572
CellularOne did not become UniCell and did not become part of Cingular/AT&T Wireless.

From their website
Hello! We're Cellular One, a network of wireless providers in 35 states...
My understanding is that they give out regional franchises, rather than being a national company. I'm pretty confident they're still an independent company since I have a CellOne phone. UniCell also offers competing service in this area.
Old 02-18-2004, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: between contracts
Posts: 113
Originally Posted by cmkeller
(not that any White Sox fan calls it anything but New Comiskey).
My friends and I call it "the Joan."

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