• US Cellular

    US Cellular

    Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, US Cellular is a popular telecommunications company, providing cell phone service to millions of customers across the United States. Since its founding in 1983, the company has grown to become one of the Midwest’s largest cell phone providers. Today, US Cellular operates the nation’s eighth-largest wireless network, providing clear digital coverage to approximately six million customers throughout 26 states.

    Exploring Cellular Technology
    The popular cellular phone company is notable for being one of the first to deploy service to areas of the United States that have not traditionally had strong coverage options provided by other networks. US Cellular offers customers national phone and Internet service, often by partnering with competitors to provide these services to customers by allowing them to roam on their networks. 2012 saw the company offering 4G Internet services for the first time, with select cities scattered throughout the country being targeted for this expansion.

    The Belief Project
    Since 2010, US Cellular has largely focused on expanding its customer base and retaining current users through a program it calls the “Belief Project.” Conceived as a rewards program of sort, the Belief Project provides customers with a wide range of benefits that many cellular plans have traditionally lacked. These benefits include unlimited incoming calls, mobile-to-mobile calling, and free calls during off-peak hours and weekends.

    Customers can also earn points under the Belief Project, often by completing surveys and referring friends to the cellular company. These points can in turn be exchanged for a wide assortment of different upgrades, new phones, and services. The latest incarnation of the company’s program is known as BPE, or Belief Project Evolved, which extends the benefits of tiered pricing and rewards to customers using tablet devices on the company’s data network.

    Customer Relations and Satisfaction
    US Cellular has continually received recognition for the service it provides to its customers. J.D. Power and Associates has rewarded the company for its high quality network performance more 13 times, in addition to bestowing its coveted Customer Service Champion award. The company also has received numerous readers’ choice awards for the customer service it provides and the quality of the company’s interactions with its customers.

    Looking to the Future
    In order to remain competitive in the crowded cellular market, US Cellular has continually pursued solutions that will allow its network to grow and technology to improve. In November 2012, the company announced its intention to sell a large swatch of its customer base in cities such as Chicago and St. Louis to Sprint Nextel. The move will allow the company to release underwhelming customers in areas where other networks are more popular. The nearly $500 million deal will also give the company an opportunity to invest in technology upgrades around the nation, strengthening the service it provides to its varied customer base.

    US Cellular offers cellphones, tablets, wireless modems and accessories at affordable prices. Individuals and families, who sign up for two-year contracts, can enjoy US cellular phones that range in price from free to $299 with a two year contract and the choice to add limited or unlimited text messaging with each phone plan.

    Single Line

    There are two cell phone plans available for individuals. The first plan includes 450 minutes for $39.99 per month. The second plan offers 1,000 minutes for $49.99.

    Family – Two-Line Plans

    Each family plan includes two lines. The most inexpensive plan comes with 1,000 minutes for $69.99. The second family plan includes 2,000 minutes for $89.99.

    Prepaid

    US Cellular’s prepaid plans start at $35 and include 400 minutes, 400 text messages and 400 pictures. Unlimited minutes and messaging with one gigabyte of data is just $50, and unlimited minutes and messaging with two gigabytes of data is $65.

    Data

    Plans for tablets and wireless modems start at an affordable $25 a month and include two gigabytes of data. The $50 a month plan allows for five gigabytes of data, and the $90 plan offers 10 gigabytes of data.

    Text Messaging

    Text messaging plans can be added instantly by purchasing individual or family plans and choosing “voice plus messaging.” It’s an additional $10 to $30 a month over the cost of voice only service. Individuals can also choose a prepaid text plan that charges .25 cents per sent message. It is free to receive, forward and reply to messages.

    Unlimited

    The single line unlimited plan costs $69.99 a month with the option to add voice and messaging for an extra $20 a month. The unlimited family plan with two lines is $119.99 a month and includes the option to add messaging for an extra $30 a month.

    Features

    Each plan comes with monthly rewards points that can be used towards the purchase of ringtones, phone accelerators, phone upgrades, cases and memory cards. Rewards points can also be used to negate overage costs.

    US cellular also offers faster phone upgrades. Depending on the type of phone plan, upgrades can be gotten in as little as 13 months, and everyone can have an upgrade after 21 months. That’s a minimum of three months sooner than every other carrier.

    Individuals paying their bill online and signing up for paperless billing can receive discounts of between three and five percent off their monthly bills. The three percent discount applies to individuals paying their bills with debit or credit cards. The five percent discount applies to individuals paying via electronic check.

    Individuals, who run out of battery on the road, can stop in at any US cellular store and swap out their battery for a freshly charged battery at no cost. This service can be used up to four times per calendar year.

    Phones And Devices

    US Cellular phones come in a wide variety of brands. Cell phone lovers can choose between Android, Windows and Blackberry phones. US Cellular offers the Blackberry® Curve™ for free after a $50 mail in rebate. They offer six cell phones for one penny, including the HTC One V™ and the Samsung Repp™. They also sell cell phones from Motorola, LG, Pantech and Alcatel that range in price from $20 to $300.

    Tablets

    Tablets are a great way to stay connected on the go. They make reading and responding to email and surfing the internet a breeze. Individuals and families can enjoy choosing between five different tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Note™, the 10.1 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab™, the HTC Flyer™, the standard Samsung Galaxy Tab™ and the Motorola Xoom™.

    The Galaxy Note™ by Samsung is equipped with a 10.1 inch glass screen, two cameras, a processor with a quad-core for optimal multitasking, a digital pen and 16 gigabytes of memory. This tablet is just $499.99 after the rebate. The larger Samsung Galaxy Tab™ comes with a 10.1 inch screen, two cameras, a one gigahertz dual-core processor and 32 gigabytes of memory. The HTC Flyer™ comes with a seven inch screen, one camera and the ability to use a stylus. The regular Samsung Galaxy Tab™ includes a seven inch screen, two cameras and the ability to use Google Mobile™ and Outlook®. The Motorola Xoom™ comes with a 10.1 inch HD touchscreen and two cameras, including a video camera. This tablet is just $499.99.

    Wireless Modems

    Wireless modems make connecting to the internet a breeze. Customers can choose between three different wireless USB modems, including the Huawei UML397 4G LTE, the PCD UM185 and the UT Starcom UM175.

    The Huawei UML397 4G LTE is 4G compatible and includes a data monitoring system so that users do not go over their allotted gigabytes per month. The PCD UM185 and UT Starcom UM175 wireless modems are both 3G compatible and contain 180 degree rotating connectors. Prices range from free to $29.99 after mail in rebates.

    Customer Support

    Customer support is offered four different ways, including in the stores, on the website, live chat and by phone.

    Stores

    Customers can ask questions, pay their bills and swap dead batteries for fresh batteries in the stores during normal business hours.

    Phone

    Toll free phone support is offered at 1-888-944-9400. Customers can ask questions about their bills, upgrade or downgrade their plans and get technical support seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.

    Website

    The website offers information on billing, cell phones, messaging and data plans, voicemail and rebates. The information on the website can be accessed 24 hours a day.

    Live Chat

    Live chat is available from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Customers can receive live help from a customer service agent on billing, cell phone plans, technical support and upgrades.

    Fees

    Fees are assessed for activation, early termination and overages.

    Contracts

    All cell phone plans require a two-year initial contract. After the two year contract, service continues on a month to month basis.

    Activation

    All two-year contracts are subject to a $30 activation fee. The only exclusion is online orders and prepaid phones. Some online orders do not have an activation fee. Unlimited prepaid phone plans are not subject to an activation fee. Prepaid voice and messaging phone plans are subject to a $20 activation fee, and voice only prepaid phone plans are subject to a $50 activation fee.

    Early Termination

    Plans that involve wireless hot-spots, featured phones and wireless modems are subject to a $150 early termination fee. Tablet and Smartphone contract cancellations are subject to a $350 early termination fee.

    Roaming

    There are no fees associated with roaming. However, if an individual uses more than 50 percent of their minutes during three consecutive months, US Cellular may opt to cancel the contract.

    Overages

    Individual plans will never be charged more than $50 during any given month. Family plans will never experience more than $150 in overage charges. In addition, customers can choose to use their rewards points to negate overage charges.

    Prepaid phone holders with voice only phones will be charged .10 cents per minute and .25 cents per text message. Prepaid customers with 400 minutes will be charged .25 cents per minute for overages.

    Sources:
    http://www.uscellular.com/uscellular/support/faq/faqDetails.jsp?topic=press-room.html
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-biz-1118-phil-us-cellular–20121118,0,2262574.column