U.S. Cellular

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United States Cellular Corporation
U.S. Cellular
Traded asNYSEUSM
Russell 1000 Component
Founded1983; 35 years ago (1983)
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois, U.S.
ProductsCDMA2000 1x, EV-DO and LTE (wireless voice and data services), SMS (text messaging), MMS (picture messaging), Mobile TV (EasyEdge Mobile TV), location-based services, BREW (EasyEdge)
RevenueIncrease$4.00 billion USD (2015)
Increase$247 million USD (2015)
Number of employees
6,700 (2014)
ParentTelephone and Data Systems (84%)

United States Cellular Corporation, doing business as U.S. Cellular, is a regional carrier[1] which owns and operates the fifth-largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States, serving 5 million customers in 426 markets in 23 U.S. states as of the first quarter of 2017.[2] The company has its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.

Corporate information[edit]

U.S. Cellular was formed in 1983 as a subsidiary of Telephone and Data Systems (TDS), Inc., which still owns an 84 percent stake.

In compliance with federal law, U.S. Cellular works with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to provide free AMBER Alerts via text messaging.[3]

Customer satisfaction[edit]

PC Magazine awarded U.S. Cellular, along with Verizon Wireless, a "Reader's Choice" for cellular service provider award in 2010, stating that it score highest in the customer service category.[4]

J. D. Power and Associates rated U.S. Cellular as having "Highest in Wireless Call Quality Performance". The North Central Region (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) has received the award from 2006-2011.[5][6]

In Consumer Reports 2010 annual survey of wireless service providers, the company received the best score out of all of the national carriers.[7]


CDMA/3G network[edit]

Originally, U.S. Cellular used analog, then Digital AMPS "TDMA" cell phones in most markets, but the company started shifting over to 1xRTT CDMA technology in 2003. After the switch, U.S. Cellular has discontinued all analog and TDMA services. In 2009, U.S. Cellular started converting its network to EVDO which offers 3G speeds. U.S. Cellular is currently implementing use of LTE for its 4G network.[8]

The company offers national 3G coverage through roaming agreements. Native coverage is mainly in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, parts of the East and New England. Although headquartered in Chicago, U.S. Cellular did not offer service in the Chicago metropolitan area until it acquired territories from PrimeCo Communications between 2002 and 2003, after the formation of Verizon Wireless.[9]

4G LTE network[edit]

U.S. Cellular announced that it would start offering 4G coverage to customers beginning in the first quarter of 2012. Just like the other larger wireless competitors, the company decided to go with LTE for its 4G coverage. The rollout was planned for selected cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma. These include some of U.S. Cellular's leading markets such as Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, Wis.; Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Bangor and Houlton, Maine; and Greenville, N.C.[10] As of November 14, 2012, U.S. Cellular has added additional 4G LTE markets, including Southern Oregon (Roseburg, Grants Pass, and Medford areas).

US Cellular's LTE network is primarily built upon two low-frequency LTE bands; 12 and 5.[11] Through the agreement with King Street Wireless,[12] US Cellular has access to the lower 700MHz A, B, and C blocks across most of their operating markets. Spectrum bandwidth on LTE includes, 5*5, or 10*10MHz on band 12 700MHz 5*5MHz on band 5 850MHz 5*5, or 10*10MHz on band 4 AWS 1

Supplementary spectrum in the band 2 1900 PCS, and band 4 2100/1700 AWS 1 and 3 bands can be deployed across US Cellular's LTE network for additional capacity in the future. Furthermore, additional 850MHz Cellular spectrum could be refarmed from 1X CDMA to create a wider 10*10MHz channel allocated for LTE. [13][unreliable source?]

US Cellular has made plans to launch their first market with VoLTE during the first quarter of 2017. The company has begun VoLTE trials during 2016 and will continue upgrading equipment in select markets to allow the trial process to continue following the services official launch. [14]

Radio frequency summary[edit]

Frequency LTE Band Number Class Protocol Status Notes
850 MHz CLR 5 3G & 4G 1xRTT, EV-DO, and LTE Active Primary LTE band.
700 MHz Lower A, B, C 12 4G LTE Active Primary LTE band.
1700/2100 MHz AWS 4 4G LTE Active
1900 MHz PCS 2 3G & 4G 1xRTT, EV-DO, and LTE Active


  • In 1998 U.S. Cellular launches its first Ecommerce site.
  • In 2003, U.S. Cellular acquired naming rights to the baseball stadium used by the Chicago White Sox. Formerly known as “Comiskey Park”, the stadium is officially renamed "U.S. Cellular Field." U.S. Cellular and AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) exchange wireless assets. U.S. Cellular receives new spectrum in markets next to or overlapping existing operations in 13 states in exchange for its Georgia and northern Florida licenses. U.S. Cellular builds and launches 12 new markets from the transaction's assets over the next two years, including Oklahoma City and St. Louis. U.S. Cellular launches easyedge, its suite of wireless data services.[15]
  • In 2004, U.S. Cellular divests its south Texas markets.
  • In 2005, U.S. Cellular enters the St. Louis market. St. Louis becomes the second largest market U.S. Cellular serves, after Chicago. U.S. Cellular introduces SpeedTalk, its walkie-talkie-like service.
  • In 2006, U.S. Cellular acquires the rest of eastern Tennessee's TN-RSA 3, formerly known as Eloqui Wireless. Already owning a 1/6 stake in the venture, U.S. Cellular purchased the remaining 5/6ths of the shares.
  • In 2007, U.S. Cellular purchases IA RSA 15 in northwest Iowa.
  • As of Q3 2007 Average monthly revenue per user is at $52.71
  • As of Q4 2007 $368 million in data revenues. Average monthly revenue per unit is at $51.13. They had a retail postpay churn rate of 1.4%. Have 6,383 total cell sites, have invested $566 million in the cell sites as well as the infrastructure.
  • As of Q2 2008 preparing to roll out 3G/EVDO revision A to select markets.
  • As of Oct. 28, 2008 U.S. Cellular launched Mobile Broadband, a service allowing customers to access data on their cell phones 10 times faster than before. It brings DSL-like service and capabilities to customers through EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology, commonly referred to as 3G. The service launched in Chicago and Rockford, Illinois; northwestern Indiana; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Des Moines, Iowa and southern Wisconsin, with more cities to follow in early 2009.
  • As of May 1, 2009 U.S. Cellular launched Mobile Broadband in most of Iowa except for western Iowa. In addition to Iowa, parts of Tennessee are now part of U.S. Cellular's Mobile Broadband coverage area.
  • As of June 30, 2009 U.S. Cellular expanded its Mobile Broadband coverage in most of Wisconsin, central and northern Illinois, with more to follow.
  • Mobile Broadband launched in summer 2009 in parts of Maine and New Hampshire, as well as areas surrounding Tulsa.[16]
  • Jay Ellison, the company's Executive VP of Operations, retired at the end of 2009.
  • On May 31, 2010 CEO Jack Rooney retired from the company.
  • On June 1, 2010 Mary N. Dillon assumed the position of CEO.
  • As of July 16, 2010 U.S. Cellular launched Nationwide 3G Data Roaming covering 98% of its customer base.
  • U.S. Cellular Corporation exercised a right to expand by 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) at Citicorp Plaza in Chicago, Illinois, which will increase the size of its lease to 232,000 square feet (21,600 m2). U.S. Cellular recently[when?] renewed its lease through October 31, 2017.
  • On October 1, 2010 U.S. Cellular unveiled the Belief Project.
  • On May 6, 2011 U.S. Cellular announced that it will offer 4G LTE by the end of 2011.
  • On June 13, 2011 U.S. Cellular launched the company's first Windows Phone 7 which is the HTC 7 Pro.
  • On June 22, 2011 U.S. Cellular launched the Motorola Xoom, an Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) Tablet.
  • On November 7, 2012 U.S. Cellular announced the sale of several markets (customers and spectrum) to Sprint Nextel. This included their home market of Chicago.[17]
  • On April 30, 2015 U.S. Cellular discontinued their BREW EasyEdge shop for feature/basic phones. Services for the EasyEdge version of My Contacts Backup, City ID, Accuweather, Your Navigator and Do Not Disturb were also discontinued.[18]
  • On September 30, 2015 U.S. Cellular discontinued their Online Album service which was used to upload pictures taken on phones to their online photo album. The service discontinuation also removed the ability for MMS disabled phones to receive multimedia messages through web links.[19]
  • On June 8, 2016 Google announced that they have partnered with U.S. Cellular as part of their Project Fi MVNO service. U.S. Cellular joined T-Mobile US and Sprint Corporation as partners with Google on Project Fi and contributed their network and LTE service to the "network of networks". [20]


The company offers phones manufactured by Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, RIM, Huawei, Alcatel, Pantech and Apple.[citation needed]

On December 5, 2011 U.S. Cellular stated it was waiting for an LTE version of Apple's iPhone before selling the phone.[21] It was rumored on May 3, 2013 that U.S. Cellular would offer the iPhone sometime during the year.

On July 12, 2012, U.S. Cellular began shipping preorders of the Samsung Galaxy S III.[22]

On October 23, 2013, U.S. Cellular's web site began advertising that the iPhone 5s will be "Available November 8th", 2013.

On November 8, 2013, U.S. Cellular began offering Apple iPhone 5s, 5c, and 4s.

On September 19, 2014, U.S. Cellular was a Tier 1 provider of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

On September 25, 2015, U.S. Cellular was a Tier 1 provider of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.[23]

Tablet PCs[edit]

U.S. Cellular launched the Samsung Galaxy i800 Tablet PC in November, 2010.

U.S. Cellular launched the Motorola Xoom Tablet PC in June, 2011.

U.S. Cellular launched the Apple iPad Air and iPad mini on November 8, 2013.

Belief Project[edit]

On October 1, 2010, U.S. Cellular unveiled its customer reward program as "The Belief Project".[24]

On September 1, 2015, U.S. Cellular shuttered the rewards program.[25]

Belief Plans[edit]

All Belief plans are nationwide with no additional roaming charges in the United States. These plans all include at no additional charge: incoming calls, nights & weekends starting at 7pm, and mobile-to-mobile calls between U.S. Cellular customers. At the beginning of the Belief Project, customers were only required to fulfill one twenty-four month agreement per line ("One-and-Done Contracts"). After the first initial contract, customers no longer had to sign contracts and could continue to buy new phones at promotional prices when eligible. However, as of Q3 2013, the "one-and-done" contract provision was discontinued on all plans, and, as of January 8, 2015, customers can no longer receive a device subsidy on most Belief Plans when eligible. Instead, they have to purchase devices at full cost without contract, or purchase devices on no-interest 24-month installment plans added to their monthly bills (see Shared Data Plans below). Customers on Belief Plans earned points each month as part of the Belief Rewards program and they could also be earned by referring customers or participating in other promotional activities. These points could be redeemed for early upgrades, free accessories, phones, overage "forgiveness" and ringtones and ringbacks. However, the Rewards Points program has been discontinued as of September 1, 2015.

Belief Plans Evolved (BPE)[edit]

As of May 1, 2012, U.S. Cellular rolled out a new set of Belief Plans. The new plans retain all of the same free calling features as the previous Belief Plans and also applies to 'connected devices' (tablets, hotspots, and data cards) offering tiered data packages. Like many carriers, U.S. Cellular charges a fee ($10 per GB) for overage on data. Like the original Belief Plans, customers can no longer receive device subsidies when eligible, instead having to opt for full-price purchases or 24-month installments added to their monthly bills. Unlike Shared Data Plans, customers on Belief Plans do not receive plan discounts for full-price or installment purchases at the time of upgrade eligibility. The only option for subsidized upgrades is for customers to migrate to Shared Data plans.

Shared Data Plans[edit]

On October 13, 2013, U.S. Cellular unveiled its take on Shared Data plans. The plans are comparable to other carriers Shared Data options, but still include all of the same free calling features. A further enhancement to the Shared Data plans was unveiled during Q2 2014, where customers could opt to purchase devices under no-interest "installment agreements" in lieu of a device subsidy. The installment plans are based on the full device cost spread out over 24 equal monthly installment payments, in addition to the cellular service cost. Customers who purchase equipment on installment plans receive discounts on their "connection charges" to their shared data plans, and pay lower activation fees on devices. There is also no penalty for early payoff for devices on installment plans. Customers who purchase devices under installment payments on shared data plans also have an "early upgrade" option to trade-in their devices after 18 payments in order to upgrade to a new device superseded by another installment agreement on the new device. In November, 2015, an enhancement was made to allow customers who purchase devices on installment plans to be able to "pay down" their devices in multiples of the device's monthly installment cost at any time. Thus, customers can now either pay off their devices in full at any time or make extra payments towards their devices.

Corporate headquarters[edit]

The company has its headquarters in almost 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2) in the U.S. Cellular Plaza complex in O'Hare, Chicago, Illinois, near O'Hare International Airport.[26][27] U.S. Cellular's lease expired in September 2011. The company stated in 2008 that it hired CB Richard Ellis to help determine whether the company should stay in its current headquarters facility, move to central Chicago, or move to the Chicago suburbs.[27]

Corporate sponsorship[edit]

U.S. Cellular owns the naming rights to:

The company formerly owned the naming rights to:


U.S. Cellular serves as the title sponsor of a NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the U.S. Cellular 250, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. It has also served as the presenting sponsor of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, since its inception in 2008.[28]


The sonic logo, tag, audio mnemonic was produced by Musikvergnuegen and written by Walter Werzowa from the Austrian 1980s sampling band Edelweiss.[29]


  1. ^ "Quick guide to cell phone carriers". Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "U.S. Cellular Reports First Quarter 2017 Results". Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "Wireless Amber Alerts". U.S. Cellular. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  4. ^ Gottesman, Ben (2010-09-07). "Readers' Choice Awards 2010 - Cellular Service Providers: Contract Providers". PCMag.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  5. ^ "Best Cell Phone Company | Awards Page | About Us". U.S. Cellular. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  6. ^ "Coverage Indicator | Cell Phone Coverage". U.S. Cellular. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  7. ^ [1] Archived December 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ U.S. Cellular Plans to Launch 4G LTE in 2012: Report
  9. ^ "U.S. Cellular Launches in Chicago". Phone Scoop. 2002-11-12. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  10. ^ "TO LAUNCH 4G LTE SERVICE AND DEVICES IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS | 2011 Press Releases". U.S. Cellular. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  11. ^ http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/story/us-cellular-spectrum-partner-bewails-absence-band-12-apples-iphone/2013-05-30
  12. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/about/press-room/2015/USCELLULAR-ANNOUNCES-NEW-MARKETS-TO-RECEIVE-4G-LTE-SERVICE-IN-2015.html
  13. ^ http://specmap.sequence-omega.net/
  14. ^ http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/us-cellular-completes-lte-buildout-and-begins-lte-roaming-q4-performance-be/2016-02-19
  15. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-02-01/news/0302010294_1_comiskey-ii-comiskey-park-cellular-field | Retrieved 2015-28-09
  16. ^ "U.S. Cellular - Welcome". Uscc.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  17. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/about/press-room/2012/USCellular-to-Sell-Select-Midwest-Markets-to-Sprint.html U.S. Cellular 2012-7-11. Retrieved 2015-28-09.
  18. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/apps/easyedge-eol.html
  19. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/apps/online-album-eol.html
  20. ^ "More speed and coverage with U.S. Cellular — now part of Project Fi". googleblog.com. 2016-06-09. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  21. ^ U.S. Cellular: We’ll take the iPhone when Apple gives us LTE — Tech News and Analysis
  22. ^ Samsung Galaxy S3 now on sale on U.S. Cellular website, coming to stores this week
  23. ^ "U.S. Cellular to Offer iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus on Friday, Sept. 25 | Press Room | 2015 Company News Releases | U.S. Cellular". www.uscellular.com. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  24. ^ "The Belief Project FAQs | The Belief Project". U.S. Cellular. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  25. ^ "https://www.uscellular.com/uscellular/common/digitalLandingTemplate.jsp?id=m&page=sec-prj.html". www.uscellular.com. Retrieved 2015-10-27. External link in |title= (help)
  26. ^ "About Us." U.S. Cellular. Retrieved on January 5, 2011. "8410 W. Bryn Mawr Suite 700 Chicago, IL 60631-3486."
  27. ^ a b Baeb, Eddie. "U.S. Cellular to explore HQ move." Crain's Chicago Business. April 23, 2008. Retrieved on January 10, 2010.
  28. ^ - 80/35 music festival
  29. ^ Paul Morley (2003-10-19). "Boot me up, Dessie". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2009-01-17.

External links[edit]