Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Cellular’

U.S. Cellular said they have made progress in repairing the damage done to its billing system when it switched to a new system last year. The company made significant changes to its billing processes in July 2013 and was immediately beset with billing issues. The problems led to a backlash from customers, who besieged the company’s social media and support sites. U.S. Cellular claims that nearly all the erroneous bills generated by the system have been resolved. “Notwithstanding the progress our teams have been making in commercializing this new system, the experience we delivered to our customers was below our standards,” said CEO Kenneth R. Meyers. “Individual customers have experienced delays in activation and billing backlogs, which have created customer confusion. As a token of our appreciation for our customers’ patience, we issued reward points to every account in the program. This almost $50 million investment, which will impact profitability in the fourth quarter, is our way of showing customers they can and should expect more from us.”


U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has written a letter to the CEOs of the country’s five largest wireless network operators requesting that they do more to help curb cell phone theft. Klobuchar points out that nearly one-third of all robberies involves a cell phone, and stolen mobile devices take a $30 billion toll on consumers each year. Lawmakers in California and New York recently attempted to convince the carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless) to add kill switches to their devices. The tool would allow consumers whose devices are lost or stolen to permanently deactivate their phone. Lawmakers believe that this will help curb the illegal resale of cell phones and eventually reduce robberies. Samsung developed such a kill switch, but carriers shot the idea down over fears of lost insurance revenue. “Your five companies [serve] more than 90 percent of the nation’s wireless subscribers,” wrote Klobuchar. “With that market share comes an obligation to do all you can to utilize technologies available to protect consumers. While I understand your companies are continuing to work with law enforcement on the stolen cell phone database, it is clear that consumers want and deserve a comprehensive strategy to prevent mobile device thefts.” Klobuchar asked the carriers to send her information about any offers made by handset makers to add kill switches, and why they didn’t adopt them; information on whether or not the carriers have considered devices with features similar to Apple’s activation lock; and details on how each company will include kill switches on future products at no cost to consumers. Klobuchar gave the carriers until January 9 to respond.

Verizon Wireless hopes to purchase some B Block AWS spectrum from U.S. Cellular, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Specifically, Verizon is eyeing 20MHz of AWS-1 spectrum in 53 counties in 14 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) across parts of Illinois and Missouri near the St. Louis region. According to the FCC, if the transaction is approved, Verizon would own 62-117MHz of spectrum across these CMAs, 40MHz of which would be AWS-1. Verizon said it wants the spectrum to supplement its LTE network in the region. Verizon is using AWS spectrum (1700MHz) in addition to 700MHz for its 4G network. It has already begun deploying LTE in the AWS band in some markets. The companies did not place a dollar value on the transaction. The FCC has accepted the paperwork and will begin the review process.

Samsung today announced that the Galaxy S4 Mini will become available from the top U.S. network operators beginning in November. The GS4 Mini was first announced in May. AT&T, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the phone. The Mini swaps out the S4’s 5-inch FHD display for a qHD 4.3-inch display; it drops the 13-megapixel camera down to 8 megapixels; and changes out the quad-core processor in favor of a 1.7GHz dual-core processor. The user-facing camera rates 1.9 megapixels and the Mini includes many of the same imaging features found in its larger stablemate. The Mini also carries over the GS4’s multitude of apps, such as S Translator, S Health, WatchOn, Samsung Hub, and others. The Galaxy S4 Mini has 8GB of internal memory (5GB accessible by users), 1.5GB of RAM, and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. It includes GPS and GLONASS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, and an IR blaster for the remote control app. Availability and pricing will be carrier dependent.

Sprint is continuing to notify customers it acquired through the May 2013 transaction with U.S. Cellular that it plans to begin shutting down affected portions of the U.S. Cellular network. The shutdown will take effect for the St. Louis metropolitan area, including parts of Missouri and Illinois, on Oct. 31.

Shutting down the affected portions of the U.S. Cellular network will allow Sprint to reuse the wireless spectrum to enhance service on its Nationwide Sprint Network. Service for affected customers will be interrupted if they do not move their service to Sprint or another carrier before the change.

Sprint began sending letters to affected customers in June to notify them of the company’s plans. To avoid an interruption of their wireless service, affected customers in the St. Louis area need to move their service to Sprint or another carrier before the network is shut down on Oct. 31.

Customers can move, or “port,” their existing U.S. Cellular phone number to Sprint or another carrier if they contact Sprint or the new carrier and make the request before the shutdown. Sprint has previously informed affected U.S. Cellular customers that their existing devices will not work on the Sprint network.

Exclusive offers are available from Sprint to allow U.S. Cellular customers to move their service and receive a new device for the Sprint network, including options available at little or no cost. Similar offers to U.S. Cellular prepaid customers also are available on Boost Mobile.

Affected customers are encouraged to visit their local Sprint store, go to or call 800-216-7023

U.S. Cellular today announced new service plans that allow both consumer and business customers to share data between devices. U.S. Cellular’s plans support up to 10 devices (25 for business customers), which can be made from a mix of basic phones, smartphones, tablets, and modems/hotspots. Smartphones have a monthly device connection charge of $40, basic phones cost $30, hotspots/modems cost $20, and tablets cost $10. Shared data packages start at 1GB for $50 per month and range up to 10GB for $100. All the plans include unlimited voice minutes and messaging. Data-only plans are available for tablets and hotspots/modems that start at $10 per month for 1GB of data. The same monthly device connection charges apply. U.S. Cellular still offers basic phone users its Talk and Text Only Plans, which include 450 minutes and unlimited messaging for $50. U.S. Cellular’s new shared data plans are available beginning today.

U.S. Cellular has yet to properly rectify problems with its billing system that began earlier this year. In July, the company switched billing systems and immediately ran into trouble. Customers flooded the company with complaints. According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the issues haven’t been resolved and are leading to double billing, erroneous billing, and other problems for customers. U.S. Cellular’s Facebook page is full of customers lashing out at the company’s inability to properly process billing and payments. In a letter sent to customers, U.S. Cellular said, “We are working to resume normal billing. However, these billing delays may cause you to receive multiple bills in a shorter period of time over the next few months. We have changed your due dates to allow you additional time to pay. We also are working individually with customers to handle account-specific issues.” The company indicated that the issues may not be resolved until November. The problem has prompted Wisconsin consumer protection officials to launch an investigation.