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Cellular One logo

Cellular One is the trademarked brand name used by several cellular service providers in the United States and Bermuda; the brand was recently sold to Trilogy Partners by AT&T, after AT&T completed the acquisition of Dobson Communications. Cellular One was originally the trade name of one of the first mobile telephone service providers.



In 1977, the American Radio Telephone Service and Motorola formed Cellular One to offer service to the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area. In 1984, cellular service began in the Baltimore/DC area.

The Baltimore/DC service, and the rights to the name Cellular One, were sold from Metromedia to Southwestern Bell in 1987. In 1989, Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems and McCaw Communications formed a partnership called Cellular One Group. In 1992, Vanguard Cellular Systems joined the group. In 1995, Cellular One opened up membership in the partnership to all A-side providers. Under the U.S. AMPS allocation, A-side providers were independent wireless operators, while B-side providers were usually affiliates of the local landline telephone company. A new slogan was also developed, "Cellular One: Clear Across America", recognizing cellular's national reach, although there were very few national plans at this time. In 1995, Cellular One affiliates had over 5 million customers and affiliates' towers served approximately 69% of the U.S. population.[1] Also in 1995, SNET joined the partnership. Not all A-side carriers participated: most notably, L.A. Cellular, in the nation's second largest market, Los Angeles, never participated in Cellular One, and did not have agreements with Cellular One for some time. AT&T purchased McCaw Cellular in 1994; shortly thereafter, AT&T renamed the former McCaw providers "AT&T Wireless" and dropped out of the partnership. Western Wireless joined the partnership in 1999.

When SBC Communications, which purchased SNET in 1998, and BellSouth merged their wireless operations into Cingular Wireless in 2001, the Cellular One group name became the sole property of Western Wireless. In 2004 Cingular merged with AT&T Wireless, which had acquired Vanguard in 1999, formally reuniting the original Cellular One partnership into a single company.

Western Wireless

Western Wireless operated under the Cellular One brand prior to being purchased by Alltel.


The Cellular One brand name was also used by Dobson Cellular in various rural markets in the continental US and in Alaska. In December 2005, Dobson purchased the rights to the Cellular One name from Alltel (which had purchased Western Wireless in August). However, their services were completely unrelated. Dobson used a TDMA and GSM network; Western Wireless used a GSM, AMPS, TDMA and CDMA network.

As of 15 November 2007, Dobson has been acquired by AT&T. The Cellular One brand was sold to Trilogy Partners as a result of the terms of the acquisition agreement.

Regional markets that operate under the Cellular One brand name

Former Cellular One partners

Independent wireless providers

  • Indigo Wireless (Formerly Cellular One of West Nebraska, and Cellular One of north central Pennsylvania) [9]
  • Viaero Wireless (Formerly Cellular One of Northeast Colorado) [10]
  • Long Lines Wireless (Formerly Cellular One of Great Lakes of Iowa) [11]

Partners acquired by Verizon Wireless

  • Unicel (Rural Cellular Corporation - AL, KS, MA, MN, MS,OR, WA) Completed August 2008 [12]
  • Price Communications Wireless (Bay County FL, Southern GA including Macon and Albany, Southern AL including Dothan and Montgomery, and southern SC) purchase completed in August 2002 [13]
  • Alabama Wireless, Inc. (Cellular One of Northern Alabama) Purchased Jan. 2002 [14]
  • Contel Cellular/GTE Mobilnet (operated under the Cellular One name in most of Tennessee, northwest Georgia, northern Alabama, and north central Kentucky; dropped the Cellular One name and switched to the GTE Wireless name in the late 1990s)
  • Cell One Kansas City Owned and operated by Airtouch, morphed into Verizon at launch in 2000

Verizon properties Originally acquired by Alltel prior to the January 2009 merger

  • Cellular XL (Cellular One of Mississippi) Purchased December 2002 [15]
  • HickoryTech Wireless (Cellular One of Mankato) Purchased by Western Wireless Jan. 2004
  • Western Wireless (Cellular One West - AZ, AR, CA, CO, IA, ID, KS, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, SD, TX, UT & WY) Purchased Jan. 2005
  • Virginia Cellular (CellOne Virginia) Purchased 2005
  • Cellular One of Amarillo Purchased April 2006 [16]
  • Cellular One of Baton Rouge, LA (owned by Radiofone of New Orleans, which SBC bought; divested by SBC to Alltel when SBC and BellSouth formed Cingular, as BellSouth already had a cellular system in Baton Rouge)

Partners now owned by AT&T

  • Unicel only in the states of VT, NY and MA. Other Unicel systems were acquired by Verizon.
  • AT&T Wireless (original McCaw systems; see above)
  • Vanguard Cellular (see above)
  • BellSouth Cellular (operated under the Cellular One name instead of the BellSouth name in the Indianapolis, IN and Chicago areas; switched to the Cingular brand when SBC and BellSouth formed Cingular)
  • Santa Cruz Cellular Telephone Company, Santa Cruz County, CA (purchased by Dobson in the mid-1990s sold to AT&T in approximately 2002)-This was a key purchase for AT&T as only missing holes in O&O Northern California coverage were San Benito & Santa Cruz counties, owned then, by Dobson.
  • Easterbrooke Cellular, Elkins, WV- Purchased on January 3, 2008 to expand coverage in West Virginia [17]
  • Dobson Communications acquisitions
    • PriCellular (NY, PA, MN, OH, KY, MI, WV, TN) Acquired by American Cellular Mar. 1998 [18]
    • American Cellular Purchased August 2003 [19]
    • RFB Cellular, Inc (Cellular One of Northeast Michigan) Purchased December 2004 [20]
    • Highland Cellular (VA, WV) Purchased October 2006 [21]
  • Cellular Communications of Puerto Rico, Inc (Cellular One Puerto Rico, also serves U.S. Virgin Islands) Acquired by SBC Communications and Telmex for $814 million in 1999[22][23], switched to Cingular brand when SBC and BellSouth formed Cingular [24]
  • Cellular One of Lake Charles, LA (first acquired by Centennial Wireless which was purchased by AT&T in Nov. 2008)

External links


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