The concept of shared data plans are nothing new, but not every carrier out there offers one. Yet as more people get their first smartphones, mobile providers want a way to keep the entire family tied to one carrier and to limit how much strain they're putting on the network. So the nation's fifth-largest carrier, US Cellular, has decided to introduce its own shared data plan, driving a stake into the heart of its previous unlimited data plan in the process.

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These new plans are available now for consumers and businesses. The former can pool together up to 10 devices, whereas the latter can select up to 25. These devices include basic phones, smartphones, tablets, hotspots, and wireless modems.

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Now for what matters - the cost. Smartphones have a monthly device charge of $40, basic phones are $30, hotspots and wireless modems are $20, and tablets are $10. Data costs range from $40 for 300MB of data (seriously) to $560 for 75GB. All plans come with unlimited text messages and minutes.

US Cellular's new monthly shared data and device costs

Devices:

  • Smartphone: $40
  • Basic Phone $30
  • Hotspots/Wireless Modems: $20
  • Tablet: $10

Shared Data:

  • 1GB - $50
  • 2GB - $60
  • 4GB - $70
  • 6GB - $80
  • 8GB - $90
  • 10GB - $100
  • 12GB - $110
  • 14GB - $120
  • 16GB - $130
  • 18GB - $140
  • 20GB - $150
  • 30GB - $225
  • 40GB - $300
  • 50GB - $375
  • 75GB - $560

US Cellular's new plan is similar to that offered by Verizon and AT&T. New customers have no choice but to dive in, but existing users can still keep their grandfathered unlimited data.

U.S. CELLULAR UNVEILS SHARED DATA PLANS FOR CONSUMERS AND BUSINESS

Consumers can share data on up to 10 devices; businesses can share on up to 25 devices

CHICAGO (Oct. 14, 2013) – U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) is making it easy for customers to manage their data, voice and messaging services with its new Shared Data plans for consumers and small businesses. With these new plans, customers can build the plan that best meets the wireless needs of their families or employees without having to keep track of multiple plans or accounts. These plans are available now, and existing customers are not required to change to a Shared Data plan.

U.S. Cellular’s Shared Data plans include unlimited minutes and messaging and provide customers flexibility in choosing a data plan to match how they use their wireless devices. Customers can share a single bucket of data among their smartphones, basic phones, tablets, hotspots and wireless modems. U.S. Cellular offers the most Shared Data options of any carrier and its plans are the only ones in the marketplace that come with a valuable rewards program that recognizes customer loyalty.

“At U.S. Cellular, providing an exceptional wireless experience is our number one goal, and we strive to provide it through our high-quality network along with devices and plans that meet our customers’ needs,” said Joe Settimi, vice president of products, pricing and innovation for U.S. Cellular. “Our Shared Data plans are designed to simplify the way our customers manage their wireless usage and provide choice and flexibility when deciding what is right for them.”

Customers can start by selecting the devices, up to 10, that they want on their Shared Data plan. They can then choose the amount of data that matches up with their usage on those devices from plans that start at 300 MB for $40 and go up to 75 GB for $560 per month. Business customers can select up to 25 devices to share up to 100 GB of data for $750 per month. Tethering is included on all plans. Smartphones have a monthly device connection charge of $40, basic phones are $30, hotspots and wireless modems are $20 and tablets can be added for $10 per month.

The following chart shows a sampling of some of the Shared Data plans that customers can choose from.

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Data only plans are available for tablets, hotspots and modems that start at $10 per month for 1 GB of data. The same monthly device connection charges as above apply. For customers with basic phones, U.S. Cellular is offering “Talk and Text Only Plans” that include 450 minutes and unlimited messaging for individuals for $50 and 1000 minutes and unlimited messaging for families at $100 for two lines and $20 for each additional line.

For a limited time, customers that add a tablet, hotspot or modem to their Shared Data plan get the monthly device connection charge waived until the end of 2013. For more information on U.S. Cellular’s Shared Data plans, visit uscellular.com.

Additional terms, conditions and/or charges may apply. See uscellular.com for details.