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Weekend edition December 08, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

40 years since Knoxville’s first wireless call

UScellular celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 6.

Fun fact: The first wireless phone call in Knoxville was placed in 1985. It was successfully made to Tokyo, Japan, where wireless phone manufacturing originated.

A lot has changed in the last 40 years. Now, we have iPhones, FaceTime capabilities, social media, and AI-equipped devices. However, the company that made the call, UScellular, is looking back to celebrate that first huge, innovative step.

“It’s a privilege to have been part of the Knoxville community and to have grown together for 40 years,” said Thomas White, Director of Sales for UScellular in East Tennessee. “UScellular was the first wireless carrier in Knoxville, and the community-minded, ‘customer first’ mentality that drove our founding has served us well throughout the years. We hope this bench serves as a reminder that human connection is a gift and provides a spot to connect to what matters most.”

That phone call helped establish the Knoxville location of UScellular. Since the location’s inception, it has only grown. UScellular is now the fourth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States.

To celebrate 40 years of achievement, members from the Knoxville Chamber and Knox County Mayor Glen Jacobs joined the celebration, which took place outside of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (the location of the first phone call).

“UScellular has been a wonderful partner, a thoughtful business citizen, and a leader alongside Knox County since 1983,” said Jacobs.

As part of their celebration, US Cellular donated a bench, pathway, and plaque to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to mark the original location of the first phone call.


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