The iPhone only came to regional carriers earlier this year, when assorted wireless providers around the country started offering the iPhone 4S nearly half-a-year after Apple first unveiled that smartphone. Regional carrier customers won't need to wait nearly as long to get their hands on the new iPhone 5, with several carriers offering the new phone for sale on Friday.
Regional carriers GCI in Alaska, C Spire in the southeast, Cellcom in Wisconsin, Appalachian Wireless in Kentucky, and nTelos in the south all plan to offer the iPhone 5 for sale on Friday. Bluegrass Cellular, which also serves customers in Kentucky, says it will offer the iPhone, but hasn't provided a date.
nTelos stands out among the iPhone 5 regional carriers by being one of the few to outline pricing for Apple's new phone. nTelos will offer the iPhone 5 at a $50 discount compared to major U.S. carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. The 16GB version will cost $150, while the 32GB and 64GB phones will sell for $250 and $350, respectively. nTelos is dropping the price of the 16GB iPhone 4S to $50 and charging a penny for an 8GB iPhone 4. All those prices require a two-year contract for nTelos's 3G service; note that the carrier does not yet offer faster LTE coverage.
nTelos offers two plans. The first provides 600 voice minutes, with unlimited texting and data, for $80 per month. Its second plan costs $100 per month, and offers unlimited voice minutes as well. Note that the unlimited data is subject to the company's "fair use policy." nTelos says that you can purchase the iPhone 5 (and older models) in its retail stores, online, or by phone; you can also pre-register at the company's website.
nTelos serves customers in Virginia, West Virginia, and portions of Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, and North Carolina. It started offering iPhones to its customers this past April.
Regional carriers aren't the only ones making the iPhone 5 available on Friday; prepaid carrier Cricket already announced that it will start selling the smartphone on Sept. 28 as well. Cricket will offer the iPhone 5 with no contract as a pre-paid phone with no activation fee. You'll need to pay $500 for a 16GB model. Cricket's iPhone plan costs $55 a month for unlimited voice, messaging, and data; "full-speed" data is limited to the first 2.5GB of usage each month.