Verizon sold their (2g/3g, dunno about the 4g stuff) frequencies in half the state (the northern/northeastern half) to US Cellular. Those were B-side (or A-side, i forget which, it's the one originally handed out to incumbent wireline LECs) allocations in the 800 MHz blocks back in the 80s. Bell Atlantic had them, but didn't keep them -- there, or in the western panhandle of Maryland either (and in MD they are wireline ILEC for the entire state, no exceptions). So it's not that they were outbid; they unloaded them deliberately. They wanted the cash to serve a more lucrative market. They kept all the Pennsyltucky ones though; I guess Bell of PA was a better funded division than C&P back then.
That half of the state is pretty much served only by US Cellular and AT&T, with a smattering of nTelos/Sprint near major highways. And that's before you get to the radio quiet zone near the VA border. Ain't nobody got time to keep hundreds of cell towers from interfering in any way whatsoever with the radio telescopes in Green Bank, or the ECHELON spy station in Sugar Grove. (So actually, you sort of *can* blame bad wireless service in a few counties directly on the NSA here.)