Some US Cellular unlimited plan subscribers will soon have a higher monthly phone bill. On August 23 the company will be raising the prices of their unlimited plans. The unlimited plans that will see a price hike are part of US Cellular's Total Plans postpaid offerings. To partially offset the price hikes, a cashback incentive will be put in place for those who subscribe to an unlimited plan but don't always use a lot of data. One wireless plan will also be removed.
New Unlimited Plan Pricing Explained
Under the current plan structure, subscribers can pick up US Cellular's unlimited plan for $60/month or their unlimited plus plan for $70/month. Those prices include a $10/month auto-pay and paperless billing discount. Taxes and fees are extra.
US Cellular isn't all that clear on its website about the differences between the unlimited and unlimited plus plans other than unlimited plus is supposed to offer higher speeds. Yet a disclaimer on the site says all unlimited data plans stream at speeds of up to 3.0 Mbps. A Reddit thread shows that some unlimited plus plan subscribers say they've gotten download speeds as high as 70Mbps. So the 3.0 Mbps speed seems to be the max speed offered on the $60 plan.
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Both plans aren't even really unlimited data plans. On the $60 plan US Cellular will slow your data speeds down to 2G if you consume over 22GB of data in a month. On the $70 plan the limit is 25GB before slowing to 2G data speeds.
When US Cellular updates its prices on August 23rd, the $60 plan will rise to $65/month and the $70 plan will rise to $75/month. Those prices are after the auto-pay and paperless billing discounts applied. Customers on either plan will then be able to get a $10/month bill credit if they use less than 3GB of data in a billing cycle. US Cellular is referring to the new plans as "unlimited with payback pricing."
US Cellular's Remaining Plans
Besides increasing the price of its unlimited data plans US Cellular is discontinuing its phone plan with 6GB of data which was priced at $50/month. The company says that only 8% of its customers were using that plan. A plan with 2GB of LTE data for $45/month will remain in tact. Data speeds are throttled to 2G after the 2GB of LTE data gets consumed.
In general the trend of the last couple of years has been for carriers and MVNOs to lower their prices, particularly in respect to limited data plans.
We have seen some carriers lower their unlimited plan prices as well. For instance T-Mobile just announced a $60/month unlimited plan effectively lowering the cost to go unlimited on the network by $10/month before accounting for taxes and fees. US Cellular is bucking the trend with what subscribers will likely consider an unwelcome change.
Unlike its competitors, its plans aren't even truly unlimited based on the current definition of unlimited. Most carriers and MVNO's offer unlimited plans where data speeds temporarily slow down when the network is busy and only if you consume more than a certain amount of LTE data in a month. In the case of US Cellular, speeds slow down drastically for the remainder of a billing cycle once you cross the threshold. And now new customers will have to pay more for that experience. Fortunately, current customers are said to be able to keep their plan if they so choose.
US Cellular is not an MVNO but actually the nation's 5th largest wireless carrier. It has roaming agreements with several unidentified major carrier networks enabling it to provide nationwide coverage. The company offers prepaid, postpaid and small business plans.