CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Cellular Corporation (NYSE: USM) today announced strategic actions designed to increase focus on markets where it has strong positions and streamline operations to increase overall efficiency and effectiveness. U.S. Cellular has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and three other Midwest markets (the "Transaction Markets") to subsidiaries of Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE: S) for $480 million. The sale includes PCS spectrum and approximately 585,000 customers, or about 10 percent of U.S. Cellular's total customer base. The company also announced that it will transition its Bolingbrook Customer Care Center operations to an existing vendor partner, effective Jan. 1, 2013. "In the dynamic wireless marketplace, we have a clear strategy to accelerate profitable growth and increase return on investment over the long term, and we are taking decisive steps to achieve it," said Mary N. Dillon, U.S. Cellular president and CEO. "Exiting these markets enables us to play to our strengths in markets where we have higher penetration and where we can effectively sharpen our proven strategy to differentiate the U.S. Cellular customer experience from other wireless carriers. Going forward, we will continue to serve more than 5.2 million customers with the unparalleled experience they expect from U.S. Cellular." Following the market divestiture, U.S. Cellular will continue to have more than 1,400 associates in the Chicago area at its Chicago headquarters and additional facilities in the surrounding suburbs. During the transition period, the company may keep open certain retail locations in the Transaction Markets and will provide certain transition services to Sprint. Over time, both company and agent-owned stores will be closed. Upon completion of the transition services period, the majority of the company's retail, engineering and business support associates in these markets will not be retained. "Our customer-focused business model is possible because of the dedication of our passionate associates," Dillon said. "Given how these decisions affect associates, they were not taken lightly. We value and appreciate their contributions and we will provide comprehensive support for them as they make their career transitions. We will also continue to deliver outstanding service and support to our customers in these markets during the transition period."