Fourth U.S. mobile operator gets iPhone


C Spire Wireless (Ridgeland, Miss., U.S.A.), a privately held regional U.S. mobile phone network operator, will become the fourth U.S. operator to sell the Apple Inc (Cupertino, Calif., U.S.A.) iPhone in "coming weeks" beating much bigger rival T-Mobile USA to a Apple deal.

C Spire, which recently changed its name from Cellular South, has about a million customers in four states, making it more than 33 times smaller than No. 4 U.S. operator T-Mobile USA, which has 33.6 million customers.

C Spire said the device would be for bill-paying subscribers rather than pay-as-you-go customers, but declined to give further details about its deal with Apple.

T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom , said in September that it has told Apple it would like to sell the iPhone and referred additional questions to Apple.

No. 3 U.S. mobile provider Sprint Nextel became the third U.S. operator to offer iPhone earlier this month, after AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc. T-Mobile USA is fighting in court for regulatory approval to be bought by AT&T in a $39 billion deal that U.S. regulators have sought to block.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew)

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