U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
2 min read

Editors' note: Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers. We can, however, tell you everything you need to know about the major carriers. We invite your feedback and ratings in our user opinions section--the more input we get from around the U.S., the better our users can evaluate coverage at a national level. For more carrier information, please see CNET's Quick Guide.

Based in Chicago, U.S. Cellular is a regional CDMA carrier serving 26 states in the Midwest, the Southeast, and the Northwest. Service is nationwide, but native coverage is only in the carrier's home area. In other places, you'll be roaming on Verizon's network, so it's not ideal for frequent travelers. The handset selection includes unique LG phones and BlackBerry devices. What's more, US Cellular is one of few carriers to offer Kyocera handsets. Added features include e-mail and messaging, push-to-talk services, GPS navigation, and various entertainment options.

Things you should know:

  • This carrier offers an unlimited calling plan.
  • As a CDMA carrier, international coverage is limited.
  • Most plans include free incoming calls from any phone number at any time.
  • Offers both regional (aka "Wide Area") and national plans.
  • Carries mostly LG, Motorola and Samsung handsets and BlackBerry smart phones.
  • Roaming outside the carrier's native coverage network may cost extra, but you can buy prepaid roaming minutes at a discount.
  • For an extra fee, you can get free mobile-to-mobile minutes with other U.S. Cellular subscribers.
  • Live Verizon Wireless uses BREW instead of Java for gaming and other applications, which can limit the number of choices available to consumers.

Fast facts:

  • Subscribers: 6.2 million
  • Coverage: U.S. Cellular's native coverage is limited to 26 states. As with all carriers, reception will vary due to location.
  • Technology: CDMA; 1xRTT
  • 3G network: Yes, EV-DO
  • Streaming video service: No
  • Music download service: No
  • Push-to-talk: Yes
  • Prepay plans: Yes
  • Family plans: Yes