Sprint Scoops Up U.S. Cellular’s Midwestern Airwaves & Its Customers, Too

Sprint already explained that even though it’s in third place among U.S. wireless carriers, it meant to get ditched by about 459,000 of its customers in order to move its network from 2G to LTE. And now it’s gained a significant chunk of new customers by buying up a bunch of spectrum and customers from U.S. cellular in a new deal the company just announced.

For $480 million, Sprint has scooped up airwaves in parts of llinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio,  the company said today in a statement, via Bloomberg. It’s going to use that spectrum to help usher in its new LTE network.

The company can afford to splash out  a bit right now, after Softbank invested $20 billion in Sprint recently. Anything to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, right?

“Acquiring this spectrum will significantly increase Sprint’s network capacity and improve the customer experience in several important Midwest markets including Chicago and St. Louis,” Sprint Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse said in the statement.

Sprint is ponying up with cash for the deal, which will be all said and done in mid-2013. It’ll be interesting to see if this helps assuage the sting of Sprint’s recent customer leakage.

If it can get its new LTE network up and running fast enough and reliably, Sprint could start to make its competitors feel a bit less secure resting on their wireless laurels.

Sprint to Buy U.S. Cellular’s Midwest Airwaves, Customers [Bloomberg]