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Alamosa PCS Holdings


, a provider of wireless services, jumped as it sprung onto the charging initial public offering market, fueling the phenomenon that has come to be the rule rather than the exception.

Shares of Alamosa rose 66%, or 11 1/8, to 28 1/8 as investors found a cheaper way to buy a piece of wireless giant

Sprint PCS Group


. (Shares closed up 11 1/8, or 65.4%, at 28 3/16.)

Alamosa, based in Lubbock, Texas, offers wireless services in the Southwestern and Midwestern U.S. under the brand of Sprint through an exclusive 1998 sales and marketing agreement with that company.

Together with

Salomon Smith Barney

, who ushered the company through the initial public offering, Alamosa offered 10,714,000 shares and raised $182 million from its initial offering price of $17.

The company said in its registration with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

that their alliance with Sprint PCS "allows us to establish high-quality, branded wireless services more quickly, at a lower cost and with lower initial capital requirements than would otherwise be possible."

Alamosa is building a digital network and has launched service in 11 markets in Texas and New Mexico. It plans to expand into Arizona, Colorado, and Wisconsin.

Right now, competition in Alamosa's territories is as dry as a desert summer. As of September last year, three or fewer carriers operated in markets that comprise more than 80% of the licensed populations in their territory, according to the company's filing.

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However, competition on a regional level is increasing with the pending merger between

SBC Communications




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, as well as from

VoiceStream Wireless



United States Cellular

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Nationally, Sprint and Alamosa should face stiff competition from

Vodafone Airtouch

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, the largest wireless operator, which just got bigger with the

acquisition of Germany's