How do you show gains in cellular growth? Why, you buy it. After its $36B merger with Nextel, Sprint proceeded to settle affiliate lawsuits with multi-billion dollar buy-outs.
In 2005, Sprint Nextel acquired three of its wireless affiliates, US Unwired (deal closed in August), Gulf Coast Wireless (deal closed in October), and IWO Holdings (deal closed in October). Alamosa PCS (WAS) the largest of its affiliate carriers. Sprint Nextel completed the acquisition of Alamosa Holdings on February, 2 2006. Other affiliates include Ubiquitel (acquired), iPCS, Shentel, Enterprise (acquired), Northern PCS (acquired), and Swiftel. [from Wikipedia]
A good example is the purchase of Nextel Partners, in which Nextel owned a 30% stake. Sprint gained 2M subs and licenses (including 2.5 GHz) in 58 tier 2 and tier 3 markets for just $6.5B.
Now VZW is trying to "acquire Rural Cellular in a deal valued at $2.67B that will expand its wireless service coverage in rural markets and add about 700,000 subscribers." VZW will take on about $2B in debt and pay about $750M for the stock. VZW will save a couple million each year in roaming costs. (The Vermont AG and PUC are reviewing this - and these guys are dissatisfied with VZ over the pending sale of the New England wireline business).
[Update] I forgot that Cingular bought Dobson (aka Cellular One) for $2.8B
And if you run out of affiliates to buy, wholesale your network. That's what MVNO is for.