U.S. Cellular

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United States Cellular Corporation
Founded1983; 38 years ago (1983)
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois, United States
RevenueIncreaseUS$4.02 billion (2019)
DecreaseUS$133 million (2019)
Number of employees
5,900 (2021)
ParentTelephone and Data Systems (84%)

United States Cellular Corporation, doing business as UScellular, is an American mobile network operator. The company is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. UScellular is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States, with 4.9 million customers in 426 markets in 23 states as of the second quarter of 2020.[1][2]

UScellular was formed in 1983 as a subsidiary of Telephone and Data Systems Inc., which owns an 84% stake.


  • In 1983, U.S. Cellular was founded.
  • In 1998, U.S. Cellular launches its first website.
  • 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 was officially renamed U.S Cellular Field (it has since had its name changed again to Guaranteed Rate Field in 2016). U.S. Cellular and Cingular (now owned by AT&T Mobility) 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.[3]
  • 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, U.S Cellular’s monthly revenue per user is at $52.71.
  • As of Q4 2007, U.S Cellular had $368 million in data revenues. Their average monthly revenue per unit is at $51.13. They had a retail postpay churn rate of 1.4%. They have 6,383 total cell sites, have invested $566 million in the cell sites, as well as the infrastructure.
  • As of Q2 2008, U.S. Cellular was preparing to roll out 3G/EVDO revision A to select markets.
  • On 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 brought 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.
  • On 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.
  • In the summer of 2009, U.S. Cellular launched Mobile Broadband in parts of Maine and New Hampshire, as well as areas surrounding Tulsa.[4]
  • Jay Ellison, the company's Executive VP of Operations, retired at the end of 2009.
  • On May 31, 2010, former 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, enabling customers who are outside of U.S. Cellular’s native coverage area to roam on AT&T Mobility‘s network for no extra fee.
  • 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 22, 2011, U.S. Cellular launched the Motorola Xoom, a tablet running Android Honeycomb.
  • On November 7, 2012, U.S. Cellular announced the sale of several markets (customers and spectrum) to Sprint Corporation. This included their home market of Chicago.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • On June 8, 2016, Google announced that they have partnered with U.S. Cellular as part of their Google Fi MVNO service. U.S. Cellular joined T-Mobile US and Sprint Corporation as partners with Google on Google Fi and contributed their network and LTE service to the "network of networks".[8]
  • On July 1, 2020, Laurent Therivel assumed the position of CEO.
  • On September 4, 2020, Kenneth R. Meyers retired as CEO.
  • On September 24, 2020, U.S. Cellular rebranded as UScellular and upgraded their logo.[9]


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. Starting in 2009, U.S. Cellular converted its network to EVDO which offered 3G speeds.

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.[10]

4G LTE network[edit]

U.S. Cellular announced that it would start offering 4G coverage to customers beginning in the first quarter of 2012.[11] 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.[12] As of November 14, 2012, U.S. Cellular has added additional 4G LTE markets, including Southern Oregon (Roseburg, Grants Pass, and Medford areas).

U.S. Cellular's LTE network is primarily built upon two low-frequency LTE bands; 12 and 5.[13] Through the agreement with King Street Wireless,[14] US Cellular has access to the lower 700 MHz A, B, and C blocks across most of their operating markets. Spectrum bandwidth on LTE includes, 5*5, or 10*10 MHz on band 12 700 MHz 5*5 MHz on band 5 850 MHz 5*5, or 10*10 MHz 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 U.S. Cellular's LTE network for additional capacity in the future. Furthermore, additional 850 MHz Cellular spectrum could be refarmed from 1X CDMA to create a wider 10*10 MHz channel allocated for LTE.[15][unreliable source?]

U.S. 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.[16]

In December 2019, U.S. Cellular was found in an FCC investigation to have lied about its 4G LTE coverage by as much as 38%, only managing to reach the federally mandated minimum speeds 45% of the time. [17]

5G network[edit]

UScellular announced plans to launch its first phone with 5G support, the Samsung Galaxy S20, as well as coverage maps for its first commercial 5G network in both urban and rural parts of Iowa and Wisconsin in February 2020.[18]

Radio frequency summary[edit]

The following is a list of known CDMA, LTE, and NR frequency bands which UScellular employs in the United States:

Frequency bands used on the UScellular Network
Frequency Band Band Number Protocol Generation Status Notes
850 MHz CLR 0 IS-95/1xRTT/
2G/3G Active/Refarming to LTE EVDO is being shut down market by market, with spectrum being refarmed to LTE. CDMA voice and 1X data services to be retained in all markets for the foreseeable future. Eventual CDMA shut down planned, but a date has yet to be set.[19]
1.9 GHz PCS 1
600 MHz DD 71 LTE/LTE-A 4G Active Additional LTE band for coverage and capacity in select areas.
700 MHz Lower A/B/C Blocks 12 Primary LTE bands.
850 MHz CLR 5
1.9 GHz PCS 2 Additional LTE bands for capacity.
1.7/2.1 GHz AWS 4/66
600 MHz DD n71 NR 5G Active/Building Out Primary 5G band.


As of October 2021, the company offers phones manufactured by Alcatel, ANS, Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Sonim, and TCL.[20]

Belief Project[edit]

On October 1, 2010, U.S. Cellular unveiled its customer reward program as "The Belief Project".[21]

U.S. Cellular quietly retired the "Belief Project" in September 2013.[22]

On September 1, 2015, U.S. Cellular shuttered its rewards program.[23]

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.[23]

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.

Unlimited Evolved Plans[edit]

In November 2019, U.S. Cellular updated its price plans under the Unlimited Evolved branding. These price plans included features like HD video streaming, hotspot access, free Redbox videos and international roaming allowances.[24]

Corporate headquarters[edit]

The company has its headquarters in almost 331,797 square feet (30,824.9 m2) in the U.S. Cellular Plaza complex in O'Hare, Chicago, Illinois, near O'Hare International Airport.[25][26] U.S Cellular maintains a corporate office in Madison, WI as well housing some IT, engineering and automation operations.

Corporate sponsorship[edit]

U.S. Cellular owns the naming rights to:

The company formerly owned the naming rights to:


UScellular has served as the presenting sponsor of the 80/35 Music Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, since its inception in 2008.[27] It also served as the title sponsor of a NASCAR Xfinity Series race until 2019, the U.S. Cellular 250, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.


The sonic logo, tag, audio mnemonic was produced by Musikvergnuegen and written by Walter Werzowa from the Austrian 1980s sampling band Edelweiss.[28]


  1. ^ Kent German (July 19, 2013). "Quick guide to cell phone carriers". CNet. 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. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-02-01/news/0302010294_1_comiskey-ii-comiskey-park-cellular-field | Retrieved 2015-28-09
  4. ^ "U.S. Cellular - Welcome". Uscc.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/apps/easyedge-eol.html
  7. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/apps/online-album-eol.html
  8. ^ "More speed and coverage with U.S. Cellular — now part of Project Fi". googleblog.com. 2016-06-09. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  9. ^ "New UScellular Brand and Logo Unveiled - Telecompetitor". www.telecompetitor.com. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  10. ^ "U.S. Cellular Launches in Chicago". Phone Scoop. 2002-11-12. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  11. ^ "U.S. Cellular Plans to Launch 4G LTE in 2012: Report".
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "U.S. Cellular spectrum partner bewails absence of Band 12 in Apple's iPhone".
  14. ^ https://www.uscellular.com/about/press-room/2015/USCELLULAR-ANNOUNCES-NEW-MARKETS-TO-RECEIVE-4G-LTE-SERVICE-IN-2015.html
  15. ^ http://specmap.sequence-omega.net/
  16. ^ "U.S. Cellular completes LTE buildout and begins LTE roaming, but Q4 performance below some expectations".
  17. ^ https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-361165A1.pdf Retrieved March 27, 2020
  18. ^ "5G-ready Samsung Galaxy S20 Coming to U.S. Cellular". www.businesswire.com. 2020-02-11. Retrieved 2020-02-15.
  19. ^ Fletcher, Bevin (October 4, 2021). "UScellular shuts off some 3G services as it upgrades LTE". FierceWireless. Questex. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  20. ^ "Cell Phones and Wireless Devices". UScellular. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Belief Project FAQs | The Belief Project". U.S. Cellular. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  22. ^ Dano, Mike (September 3, 2013). "U.S. Cellular quietly retires 'Belief Project' brand and many of the perks". FierceWireless. Questex. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  23. ^ a b Goldstein, Phil (March 20, 2015). "U.S. Cellular to shut down 'Rewards' program for customers on Sept. 1". FierceWireless. Questex. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  24. ^ "Compare Phone Plans & Data Plans | UScellular".
  25. ^ "About Us." U.S. Cellular. Retrieved on January 5, 2011. "8410 W. Bryn Mawr Suite 700 Chicago, IL 60631-3486."
  26. ^ Ori, Ryan. "U.S. Cellular expanding HQ near O'Hare." Crain's Chicago Business. May 10, 2016.
  27. ^ - 80/35 music festival
  28. ^ Paul Morley (2003-10-19). "Boot me up, Dessie". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2009-01-17.

External links[edit]