If you waited to buy an iPhone 5 waiting for the hubbub to die down and you live outside the country's largest cities – you may have saved yourself some money.
Six regional carriers – Appalachian Wireless, C Spire, Cellcom, Cricket (formerly Leap), GCI and nTelos, – today started to sell Apple's iPhone 5 today, many for a discount over what AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Verizon are charging.
However, these discounted iPhone 5's offer only 3G connectivity rather than 4G LTE, the raison d'etre to upgrade from an earlier iPhone.
Here's what each regional carrier is offering and for how much:
Appalachian Wireless, serving eastern Kentucky, is selling iPhone 5 for $50 on all three storage capacity models – $149.99/16 GB, $249.99/32 GB, $349.99/64 GB. As with most of the regional carriers, Appalachian Wireless is only a 3G-only network.
C Spire, the eighth largest cell carrier in the U.S. covering the Gulf Coast region covering swaths of Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida panhandle and western Georgia, also is selling iPhone 5 for the $50 less. Except, as of this writing, the carrier is out of stock on the black 16 GB and 32 GB models. Unlike Appalachian, C Spire offers 4G LTE and says it will have 37 LTE markets by the end of the year – although mysteriously the iPhone 5s aren't labeled on the site as 4G LTE, and its definition of "High-Speed Data Capable" is 3G. Caveat emptor.
Cellcom, serving rural Wisconsin, also offers the same $50 discount on iPhone 5, but these seem also to be 3G-only units.
Pre-paid carrier Cricket Wireless will start selling the 16 GB iPhone 5 for $499.99 on Oct. 16 with a $55/month service plan for 2.5 GB of data plus unlimited voice and texting. But like the other carriers listed in this post, Cricket's iPhone 5 also is likely a 3G model. The carrier inaugurated its LTE service in 2011 in Tucson, AZ, and "[s]everal additional cities are scheduled to launch in 2012," but I can't find any updates. The rest of Cricket's network is 3G.
Alaska-based GCI lists iPhone 5 as "coming soon" with the same $50 discounts. The carrier offers LTE coverage only in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and since the other discounted iPhone 5s are all 3G-only, I suspect the same may be true here.
nTelos, serving Virginia, West Virginia and sections of Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina and Ohio, posts the same $50 iPhone 5 discounts, also for 3G service.