U.S. Cellular increases prepaid data plans in heated segment

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U.S. Cellular's move underscores the increasing competition in prepaid, which big carriers like Verizon and AT&T once considered an afterthought.

U.S. Cellular has added data to its prepaid plans as competition in the segment continued to heat up.

The carrier’s $45-a-month Simple Connect Prepaid plan now includes 3 GB of high-speed data, up from 2 GB, and the $60 monthly plan was increased from 5 GB to 6 GB. U.S. Cellular also added a 12 GB plan for $75 a month.

U.S. Cellular also upped the data allotments in its Ready Connect Prepaid plans, which are sold through outlets such as Walmart and Dollar General, in a limited-time promotion. Users on the $45 monthly plan now get 4 GB a month; the $55 plan has 8 GB and the $75 plan includes 12 GB.

All plans at $35 per month through both services include unlimited talk and text, and customers are downgraded to 2G speeds once they’ve reached their monthly data caps.

“February and March are popular months for prepaid wireless purchases, so our updated plans provide an even better experience to our current customers as well as any consumers looking for a better prepaid deal,” Grant Leech, vice president of brand management for U.S. Cellular, said in the announcement.

The move underscores the increasing competition in prepaid, which was once largely an afterthought for U.S. carriers. Cricket Wireless, AT&T’s prepaid brand, today upped the monthly data allotments in its plans and began offering free LTE phones to users who switch from other services. And Verizon—which has long essentially ignored the prepaid market—earlier this month confirmed that it was testing sales of its prepaid service through exclusive dealers.