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US Cellular Announces Its Own Shared Data Plans, Starting at $50 for 1GB

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.44.12 AM

US Cellular announced its own version of shared data plans this morning, joining Verizon and AT&T in one of the most often criticized new wireless trends of the last couple of years. As with the others, US Cellular claims that having giant pots of data that can be shared between family members and employees is much easier to manage. Of course, no one was actually asking for this type of easy management until the industry took unlimited data away from us all and realized that they could bank off of GBs just like they once did with minute and text overages. 

So what are US Cellular’s new shared data plans? They look something like this:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Each smartphone will cost you $40 per month; feature phones are $30 per month
  • Tablets are $10; hotspots are $20
  • 1GB data – $50
  • 2GB data – $60
  • 4GB data – $70
  • 6GB data – $80
  • 8GB data – $90
  • 10GB data – $100

If you have a single line smartphone, with a 2GB data package, you are looking at a monthly bill of $100, which includes unlimited talk and text. With a family of 3, all smartphones, and a 8GB data package, you are looking at a monthly bill of $210.

The plans and pricing are identical to Verizon’s, so yes, they probably look familiar.

US Cellular has said that they will not force existing customers onto these shared data plans.

U.S. CELLULAR UNVEILS SHARED DATA PLANS FOR CONSUMERS AND BUSINESS

Consumers can share data on up to 10 devices; businesses can share on up to 25 devices

CHICAGO (Oct. 14, 2013) – U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) is making it easy for customers to manage their data, voice and messaging services with its new Shared Data plans for consumers and small businesses. With these new plans, customers can build the plan that best meets the wireless needs of their families or employees without having to keep track of multiple plans or accounts. These plans are available now, and existing customers are not required to change to a Shared Data plan.

U.S. Cellular’s Shared Data plans include unlimited minutes and messaging and provide customers flexibility in choosing a data plan to match how they use their wireless devices. Customers can share a single bucket of data among their smartphones, basic phones, tablets, hotspots and wireless modems. U.S. Cellular offers the most Shared Data options of any carrier and its plans are the only ones in the marketplace that come with a valuable rewards program that recognizes customer loyalty.

“At U.S. Cellular, providing an exceptional wireless experience is our number one goal, and we strive to provide it through our high-quality network along with devices and plans that meet our customers’ needs,” said Joe Settimi, vice president of products, pricing and innovation for U.S. Cellular. “Our Shared Data plans are designed to simplify the way our customers manage their wireless usage and provide choice and flexibility when deciding what is right for them.”

Customers can start by selecting the devices, up to 10, that they want on their Shared Data plan. They can then choose the amount of data that matches up with their usage on those devices from plans that start at 300 MB for $40 and go up to 75 GB for $560 per month. Business customers can select up to 25 devices to share up to 100 GB of data for $750 per month. Tethering is included on all plans. Smartphones have a monthly device connection charge of $40, basic phones are $30, hotspots and wireless modems are $20 and tablets can be added for $10 per month.

The following chart shows a sampling of some of the Shared Data plans that customers can choose from.

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Data only plans are available for tablets, hotspots and modems that start at $10 per month for 1 GB of data. The same monthly device connection charges as above apply. For customers with basic phones, U.S. Cellular is offering “Talk and Text Only Plans” that include 450 minutes and unlimited messaging for individuals for $50 and 1000 minutes and unlimited messaging for families at $100 for two lines and $20 for each additional line.

For a limited time, customers that add a tablet, hotspot or modem to their Shared Data plan get the monthly device connection charge waived until the end of 2013. For more information on U.S. Cellular’s Shared Data plans, visit uscellular.com.

Additional terms, conditions and/or charges may apply. See uscellular.com for details.

About U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular rewards its customers with unmatched benefits and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier has a strong line-up of cutting-edge devices that are all backed by its high-speed network that has the highest call quality of any national carrier. Currently, 61 percent of customers have access to 4G LTE speeds and nearly 90 percent will have access by the end of 2013. U.S. Cellular was named a J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Champion in 2012 for the second year in a row. To learn more about U.S. Cellular, visit one of its retail stores or uscellular.com. To get the latest news, promos and videos, connect with U.S. Cellular on Facebook.com/uscellular, Twitter.com/uscellular and YouTube.com/uscellularcorp.

  • dkbnyc

    Okay, just ran the specs on their web page. I picked a 75 GB data plan. . Unlimited calls and text. Samsung S4. Total cost per month not including taxes $600.00! $580 just for the data. I would hate to own stock in this company.

  • dkbnyc

    I guess the idea is to loose customers. I guess Big Pinky [T-Mobile] is about to get another influx of new meat.

  • Sporttster

    Some absurd prices there. Guess they don’t plan on having customers. I sure as heck won’t be considering it anytime soon! If these smaller companies expect to compete against the big boys, they will be expected to offer better deals at lower prices. Not gonna happen at this pricing level…..

  • Adrynalyne
  • Dominick White

    So u. S cellular, the same price as Verizon, but none of the coverage

    • Adrynalyne

      This almost sounds like internal sabotage to drive down stock prices for a buyout.

      • Dominick White

        Only thing I can think of as well

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        I agree.

  • Amit

    Wow, internet is so pricey in US.

    • Sporttster

      EVERYTHING is so frigging pricey in the US! Tired of paying out the nose for everything…..can’t get away from it unless you want to live in a hole in the ground. It’s ridiculous!

  • Sqube

    US Cellular: $70/4GB/unlimited talk and text
    AIO Wireless: $70/7GB/unlimited talk and text

    AT&T’s service isn’t exactly terrible in my neck of the woods. I can’t think of anything compelling about USC.

    • capecodcarl

      T-Mobile: $70/Unlimited data, talk and text.
      MetroPCS: $60/Unlimited data, talk and text

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Both of which give you nothing but EDGE data speeds when you leave a metro area. Fail.

    • timrcm

      AIO is so awesome. I wish AT&T didn’t have a deadzone right in the middle of my office or I’d still be playing the prepaid game with a Nexus 4.

  • starnovsky

    What is US Cellular and why do they think they can charge outrageous prices?

    • Abgar Musayelyan

      i think they’re that other carrier that also got the moto X.

  • David Tyler

    Why would I go with US celluar when these prices are identical to Verizon? If that is the case I would stick with verizon. Anyway do you notice that the wireless industry as a whole, prices are very high comparing to about 5-10 years ago. We are heading in the wrong direction. Currently I have a verizon shared family plan 1400 minutes with unlimited data and I am holding on to it until verizon take it away. After, I will have no other choice but to go with T-mobile or Sprint.

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Are we heading in the wrong direction, though? 10 years ago, data over a mobile network was slower than dial-up. Nowadays, mobile data is faster than a lot of people’s home broadband Internet. The devices we have now were nothing but wet dreams 10 years ago. With the increased infrastructure needed to support that, plus the demands of Americans to have coverage everywhere we live and work with decent data speeds to boot, it’s really not shocking that we’re paying considerably more. Running a big cellular network isn’t cheap, my friend!

      • trixnkix637

        It’s illogical to assume these companies aren’t nickel & diming customers all in the name of maintaining support. These are corporations that are only concerned with the bottom line/profits.

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Of course. I’m not saying they’re not making money hand over fist. Of course they are. Only a fool would argue otherwise. But, in US wireless service, you get what you pay for. That’s all I’m saying.

      • timrcm

        Right – it always baffles me when people compare our wireless prices to those of European countries. Folks, the state of Texas alone is significantly larger than the UK. Their carriers need a tiny fraction of the infrastructure that US carriers require. It’s not really a fair comparison.

        That’s not to say we’re not being ripped off, but it’s not 99.9999% profit like some would have you believe.

  • moelsen8

    puke

  • MK17

    People do realize that US Cellular and Verizon are the same company right? US Cellular is the “regional provider” which I’m pretty sure means they get the crap places with lower overhead cost.

    This basically make Verizon not look like a monopoly and keeps the government out of their hair. This is similar to when the government forced the oil companies to split way back when; Verizon is just doing it on their terms instead of what the government may have come up with.

    • Adrynalyne

      No they aren’t.

      They are their own company with Sprint owning part of it.

    • Cliff Wynne

      Ok for the last time they arent the same company. In fact once you leave a US Cellular area and start roaming the service turns horrible. I have friends on US Cell and I have Verizon and when we were both in the same area in Memphis I had full coverage and he had little to none.

  • PhoenixPath

    This is just Phase one of their Three-phase “Not-Your-Carrier”™ plan, guys…

    1) Raise the prices through the roof.

    2) Contract you to one device per decade, no upgrades. (This adds $40 to your bill)

    3) No home network. All network coverage is roaming at $3.99 per minute – no data.

    Part one is so far, a roaring success, guys! We’ve already had *tons* of folks choose us to be “Not-Your-Carrier”™! Phase two will knock it out of the park and by phase 3, I personally guarantee, everyone, even our Employees and Executives will have chosen us as “Not -Your-Carrier”™!

  • cjohn4043

    $50 for 1GB? Man, that bytes.

  • Kyle

    Haha, WHAT?

  • ostensibly

    $100 a month for a 2gb plan? seems legit.

    • Jamen Tyler Lang

      yeah didn’t you hear? it’s 1998!

  • Cael

    I always thought Verizon owned US Cellular. Now I see why.

    • Adrynalyne

      But they don’t.

      • Cael

        I know they don’t…just saying their similarities made me think it.

        • Adrynalyne

          Gotcha. Some here thought that Verizon owned US Cellular. Thank you for the clarification.

  • randompsychology

    This is pretty insane. I think Verizon is ridiculous for charging such outrageous prices, but at least they can claim one of the largest and most reliable networks in the U.S. I’d guess that they’re probably one of the highest quality carriers in the world (in terms of service, not price).

    Then, you have U.S. Cellular. Their service and coverage is terrible in comparison to pretty much everyone else. I’m not sure I can think of a single reason why someone would now choose them over any other carrier.

    T-Mobile and Sprint both offer better pricing and better service. This is so very strange.

    I’ll go ahead and predict a reversal of this pricing within the next 12 months, as they start shedding new subscriber numbers.

    • Brian Barcus

      They have already been shedding subscribers. A few years back USC had the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any cellular company (at least according to some report I was shown at the time). Since then they tried growing into markets where the big carriers already existed and they failed. Since then they’ve backed off to something closer to their original territory where they still have old loyal customers and went on a price gouging spree. Looking in from the outside they appear to be flailing around without any clue how to return to the high profits of old and are setting themselves up to eventually be bought out by Sprint (who already bought some of their territory).

  • Daistaar

    YESSSS!!!!! 50 bucks for a whole gig!!! Just what I always wanted! Guess who’s switching to US Cellular?!!!

    • PhoenixPath

      Said no-one ever… :-P

  • PolarBear

    Unlimited data is dying in DSL too. No more unlimited WiFi…. Hell no!!!

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    “Eff you, Verizon! When my contract ends, I’m flipping you the bird and going to US CELLULAR!” — Nobody, ever.

    • Kevin

      i said that a year ago when they were offering unlimited 4g

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        There’s one in every crowd. ;)

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Why does US Cellular feel like they can charge these kinds of prices?

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Right?! These are the exact same prices Verizon charges, and for way better coverage. US Cellular’s management team has clearly smoked a bone too many.

      • MK17

        It’s because they practically are Verizon. They have practically the same plans, same phones, they use the same towers. I don’t think you’d have to dig too deep to find Verizon intermingled in

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Which is ironic because I think (but I could be wrong) that if you’re anywhere outside of US Cellular’s few “home” coverage areas scattered throughout the US, you’re almost always roaming on Sprint, not Verizon. haha

          • Adrynalyne

            Sprint owns a decent chunk of US Cellular.

      • michael arazan

        This does not make me want to buy into their network, but does make me want to buy what they are smoking!

  • goodvsevil

    These greedy companies will get whats coming to them. Evil only wins for so long.

  • Matthew Dickinson

    Saw a map that represented the cost of mobile data around the world. Just look at that and you can see how bad off we have it across the board.

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      You can’t compare the United States to any other country on Earth. The sheer amount of coverage a “nationwide” carrier has to provide without any kind of government subsidy is like nowhere else on the planet. You have other countries that are comparable to the USA size-wise, places like India, China, Australia and Russia, but most of those countries are full of enormous areas where there’s no cell service. There are very few places in the United States outside of Alaska where one could travel even 100 miles with no cell service. We pay the highest prices for cell coverage because we have cellular networks here that the rest of the world would cream their pants over when it comes to coverage. That comes at a premium price, my friend.

      • ScottyByrd

        Agree with the exception of we also do not know how concentrated people are in the areas that arent covered. Korea itself is pretty covered and they pay a lot less than we do for mobile as well as standard internet and get more than we do.

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Korea also isn’t anywhere near as big as the US is. It’s easier and cheaper to cover a smaller area. Plus, how are the data speeds throughout the coverage area? Verizon and (soon) AT&T have LTE in places where there are more cows than people and places where people probably can’t even spell Internet.

      • starnovsky

        Yes, and that’s why small regional carries like US Cellular can offer you a much lower prices than nationwide carriers. Oh, wait…

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Well played, sir.

  • socarwolverine

    Shared data is the future. A dark, dreary, data-capped, expensive future. US carriers are like lemmings.

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      I don’t know…I don’t mind my AT&T MobileShare plan. $160 for 10 GB shared between my phone and my tablet. AT&T has great coverage just about everywhere I travel so I don’t mind paying it. It’s a lot cheaper than it would have been on the old style plans to get unlimited talk/text on the phone + two 5 GB data plans (one for each device).

      • socarwolverine

        I’m glad that it works for you. But I’m paying $80 on VZW with unlimited data, and if I want to share that with another device I just tether. It may work in your situtation but I wouldn’t call it progress.

        • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

          Yeah prices always rise, though. You’ve probably been with Verizon for years to get it that cheap. That’s awesome. One day, though, they’re going to force everyone out of unlimited data and when they do, that’s going to suck.

          • socarwolverine

            “that’s going to suck”, exactly, which is why I’m saying things aren’t getting better. Now that the carriers have built a dependence on fast ever-available data, they’re cashing in on it. Over a $150 for two devices, only one of which constantly needs a connection other than wifi, is not a good deal.

          • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

            My issue with tethering is twofold:

            1. While I can technically tether to my phone, I always forget about it. I’ll turn on tethering, then throw my phone in my pocket. Three hours later I’ll check on my phone only to find that 50% of my battery has disappeared.
            2. By tethering, I’m still using the data, so I’d still need a 10GB data plan. My tablet goes everywhere with me. So, if I need a 10 GB plan regardless, it’s worth it to me to pay the $10/mo to have the tablet on my cell account with its own SIM card so I can be connected wherever I want without having to worry about another device to enable the connection. $10 is a convenience fee, really. I’m fine with it.

          • socarwolverine

            Your case works compared to other shared plans, but falls apart when compared to the unlimited plans every carrier is taking away (aside from the battery argument). I’m not harping on you cause I understand you gotta do what you gotta do and rationalize it how you need to. But, in no way are you better off financially now, than you would have been if you were on an unlimited plan. That’s the problem.

          • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

            No argument from me there, dude. If I could have unlimited data through VZW for $80 a month, I’d be all over that like Adele on a box of Twinkies.

  • Greyhame

    They had a real chance to undercut the pricing of Verizon and AT&T. They chose not to do that, and that’s a real shame. These data costs are completely ridiculous.

    • PhoenixPath

      Indeed. Talk about pricing yourself out of the competition…

      • Daistaar

        What if that’s the plan? Push towards a buyout from a larger carrier by driving their market value down? Maybe Sprint?

        • PhoenixPath

          IT would make more sense, that’s for sure.

        • Adrynalyne

          Could be, considering Sprint already purchased some of US Cellular.