U.S. Cellular launches new no-contract plans, installment financing

U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) is introducing new no-contract plans, installment financing for devices and, for a limited time, will pay certain customers up to $350 if they switch to the carrier.

The changes from U.S. Cellular come amid continued pricing ferment in the market and just a few days after Sprint (NYSE:S) launched a new promotion under which it will pay up to $650 to subscribers who switch from another carrier to one of Sprint's new Framily family calling plans. The Sprint offer exactly matches the ETF payoff promotion that T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) launched in January--but unlike T-Mobile's offer, Sprint's ETF payoff promotion is set to end May 8.

Under U.S. Cellular's new no-contract "Simple Connect" plans:

  • Feature phone customers can pay $40 per month for unlimited voice, messaging and web browsing.
  • For $50 per month on a Simple Connect plan, smartphone customers get unlimited voice, messaging and data with 500 MB of high-speed LTE data before throttling.
  • For $60 per month, customers get unlimited voice, messaging and data with 2 GB of high-speed data before throttling.
  • Under its new "Retail Installment Contract," Simple Connect plan customers can either pay for the full cost of their device upfront, or can pay for it in monthly installments. However, unlike other device financing options from Tier 1 carriers, the U.S. Cellular plan does not let customers upgrade their phone earlier.

Additionally, U.S. Cellular said that, for a limited time, it will pay off customers' old contracts, up to $350 per line, when they switch to a Shared Connect plan and choose the Retail Installment Contract option. Anyone who ports their number from another carrier and sends in their final bill with the Early Termination Fee on it will receive a prepaid debit card for that amount. A U.S. Cellular spokeswoman said the promotion will be for a limited time but does not have an end date right now.

U.S. Cellular has reported postpaid subscriber losses for years now. The carrier ended 2013 with around 4.77 million total customers. However, the company has LTE coverage to 90 percent of its customer base and in March it added more data to its shared data plan buckets without changing prices.

For more:
- see this release

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