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As unfair as it might seem, a phone’s commercial success very rarely depends solely on things like hardware, software support or design. Instead, it often all comes down to marketing, how fast you can make a device available and how many major carriers you can strike partnerships with.

Case in point, Sony’s Xperia Z and ZL. By far the two most impressive smartphones to be unveiled in the first couple of months of 2013. And yet their potential for greatness is severely crippled by the fact that they are not available from most major carriers in North America.

The Z is likely to never land in Canada and is only available in the US for now in SIM-free, “international” flavors. Meanwhile, the ZL has got a little more love up north, while in America it’s being sold by Sony in an unsubsidized form.

But there is after all one US carrier set to sell the Xperia ZL on-contract – Cincinnati Bell, the regional network that serves the city of Cincinnati, as well as its nearby suburbs in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

However, given the network is planning to offer the 5-incher for $249.99 after mail-in rebate starting May 1, we’d be surprised if there were too many Cincinnati Bell customers eager to buy the ZL.

But hey, let’s not be too negativistic about ZL’s future. After all, this is a start (albeit a rocky one), and maybe other, more important carriers will follow Cincinnati Bell’s suit. There were rumors about AT&T planning to pick the Xperia ZL up a while ago, remember?

In the meantime, you can check out our own Xperia ZL video review to see exactly what you’re missing. Or you can forget all about carriers and just take your business directly to Sony’s US online store.

There you can pre-order the SIM-free LTE-enabled ZL version (model number C6506) for $759.99. You can choose between the red, white and black variants of the phone, with shipping estimated for next week in all three cases. Will you be doing that or will you just wait for one of America’s larger networks to carry the ZL?