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February 13, 2018

U.S. Cellular gives you unlimited data on four lines, but read the fine print

by John_A

U.S. Cellular is finally starting to take unlimited data a little more seriously. The company has largely lagged behind the so-called “big four” carriers to date, but its latest offering could make it a serious option for those that want a little more data — especially those in a family or with a group of friends willing to sign up with them. The U.S. Cellular Total Plan now comes at a $140 for new subscribers with four lines and offers unlimited data. That is a tiny $35 per line.

You need four lines to reach $35 per line, but those with fewer lines can still get a pretty good price. One line comes at $45, while two lines cost $43 per line, and three lines $39 per line.

“We want our customers to have the freedom to use their phones however they want at a price that doesn’t break the bank,” Grant Leech, vice president of brand marketing at U.S. Cellular, said in a statement. “But unlimited data doesn’t mean anything unless you have a network that keeps up with it, so we provide an award-winning, fast network that works when and where our customers need it.”

All these prices are great, but there are a few caveats to consider. For starters, U.S. Cellular’s data speeds aren’t the best. The company notes in the fine-print that download speeds cap out at 1.5Mbps for streaming, and speeds will shift to 2G speeds after 22GB of data. According to Speedtest, the average mobile download speed in the U.S. is 22.69Mbps, and T-Mobile is the fastest option, with an average download speed of 23.17Mbps.

Also, while U.S. Cellular doesn’t note an expiration date, it does say that the cheaper pricing is only available for a limited time. Also, you have to jump through quite a few hoops to sign up too — the company says you are required to purchase a qualified phone, sign up for its Device Protection+ service, sign up for Autopay, and paperless billing. And if you do not do those things? It’s likely the price will be a little more on-par with what the other carriers are offering.

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