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U.S. Cellular Struggles Amid Changing Competitive Environment

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 9:59am
Andrew Berg

U.S. Cellular said it won't provide a forecast for 2014 due in part to the "unprecedented number of actions related to pricing of service plans and devices, including device financing, announced by competitors in recent weeks." 

The regional carrier says it's still determining an appropriate response to the new competitive landscape in the wireless industry.  

The statement comes as part of parent company TDS' fourth-quarter earnings, wherein the company reported a net loss of $0.06 per share or $6.1 million. That's compared to a loss of $41.9 million and $0.39 per share in the same period last year.

In the fourth quarter, U.S. Cellular saw postpaid net losses of 71,000, up significantly from 19,000 postpaid net losses in the same quarter last year. U.S. Cellular now counts 4,610,000 total retail customers. 

U.S. Cellular has struggled recently with the implementation of a new billing system, which the company has admitted resulted in elevated churn. Although U.S. Cellular expects churn to improve over the next several months, the extent and timing of the improvement is uncertain.

TDS president and CEO, LeRoy Carlson, confirmed in a statement that the billing system conversion continues to impact churn. He added that customer response to U.S. Cellular's Apple device offerings and shared data plans have been "very positive." 

Shares of TDS opened Wednesday at $23.95, down 1.72 percent. 

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