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iPhone 5 for $150

With Apple touting the sale of 5 million iPhone 5 devices over its opening weekend, the hype surrounding the iconic device takes on a broader appearance this weekend as a number of regional players will begin offering the device starting Sept. 28.

Similar to the launch of the previous generation iPhone 4S earlier this year by a number of smaller operators, pricing for the new device looks set to undercut that of larger rivals. Cellcom and NTelos both said they would offer the iPhone 5 for $150 with a two-year contract, or $50 cheaper than the pricing set by Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel. While a bit cheaper, the contract requirement should allow the smaller operators to re-coup that initial subsidy investment over the lifetime of the contract.

By comparison, larger operators Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel, which were the initial launch partners for the device, are selling their versions for $200 with a two-year contract.

In addition to the iPhone 5 price, NTelos said it would continue offering the 4S model for $50 and the iPhone 4 for one cent, while Cellcom said it would offer the 4S for $50 and the 4 for free. Other regional operators set to launch the iPhone 5 include C Spire, Nex-Tech and Leap Wireless, which will offer the device at an unsubsidized price to go along with its no-contract service offering.

The iPhone 5 includes support for LTE services, though that support by regional carriers will be somewhat limited at least initially due to a lack of coverage or some operators having yet to roll out LTE services. Cellcom, which recently launched LTE services as part of Verizon Wireless’ LTE in Rural America program, said the iPhone 5 would initially be limited to its native 3G network as well as subject to nationwide 3G roaming agreements. The carrier added that it was working with Apple to integrate LTE support.

Regional carriers attending this week’s Competitive Carriers Association event in Las Vegas and with plans to offer the iPhone 5 said they were happy to be able to offer the device to their customers and did not seem put off by the subsidy that analysts have noted is significantly higher than what is required to offer similar smartphones running Google’s Android operating system.

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