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Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 08:05 am PT (11:05 am ET)

Three regional US carriers will gain Apple's iPhone 4S May 18 [u]

Apple continues to ink deals with smaller regional carriers in the U.S., as Kentucky's Bluegrass Cellular, California's Golden State Cellular, and Kansas' Nex-Tech Wireless will begin offering the iPhone 4S on May 18.

The iPhone 4S will be available starting at $149 for the 16-gigabyte model, $249 for the 32-gigabyte model, and $349 for the 64-gigabyte capacity. Those prices are $50 cheaper than with the three major carriers in the U.S.

In addition, all three carriers will also offer Apple's previous-generation 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 for $49. Customers can pre-register for their purchase today.

The three carriers' networks are based on the same CDMA wireless standard used by major U.S. carriers Verizon and Sprint. Bluegrass Cellular is headquartered in Elizabethtown, Ken., Golden State Cellular is based out of Jamestown, Calif., and Nex-Tech operates out of Hays, Kan.

"Bluegrass Cellular is pleased to offer iPhone 4S to our customers throughout the Bluegrass service area nationwide," said Ron Smith, President and CEO, Bluegrass Cellular. "We will give iPhone customers unparalleled service as they experience this amazing device and its unique features and applications on our network, wherever they go.”

Bluegrass

Golden State


"Golden State Cellular is thrilled to bring this amazing device to the network offering the most local coverage in California," said Lawrence Moore, General Manager. "iPhone 4S is in high demand and our customers are going to love using its innovative features on our network."

"Nex-Tech Wireless is thrilled to bring iPhone to our customers. We pride ourselves in having seamless nationwide coverage, unbeatable customer service and now, the most sought-after mobile device,” said Johnie Johnson, president and CEO for Nex-Tech Wireless. "Our customers will love the multitude of new features of iPhone 4S and the value our plans and unlimited data offerings provide.”

A month ago, a total of five carriers announced they had signed a deal with Apple. Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, GCI and nTelos all began selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on April 20.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Only one of the four major U.S. carriers — T-Mobile — does not currently offer the iPhone, because of technical limitations. But that could change as soon as the end of this year, as the carrier plans to modify its network to allow compatibility with the iPhone's HSPA+ wireless antenna for high-speed data.