U.S. Cellular Tests a New Try Before You Buy Approach to Win Customers

Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA may not be the only American carrier trying to shake up the mobile industry with its UNcarrier announcement ushering in an era of contract-free, subsidy-less phone plans with interest-free financing. U.S. Cellular is looking to test a new initiative to make its network more appealing to potential customers by allowing them to test drive the network without any risks, commitments, or obligations.

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The U.S. Cellular try-before-you-buy initiative is only being tested now in a number of cities, including Knoxville, Tennessee; Medford Oregon; and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, according to Fierce Wireless.

Under the plan, U.S. Cellular will allow customers try its 3G and 4G LTE networks without having to sign a contract for a period of one week.

The initiative may make it compelling for customers who may be tempted by U.S. Cellular’s value proposition pricing, but may not know how well the network performs.

Under the initiative, the carrier will loan out either the Motorola Electrify M, the Samsung Chrono 2, or the Samsung Galaxy Metrix. Though these devices aren’t the flagship or high-end handsets that’s been the focus of the reporting here at GottaBeMobile, the point of the trial is so customers can experience the network performance, not about the handset. Potential customers will also be allocated with 500 minutes of talk time, 500 text messages, and 1 GB of data.

It’s unclear if larger national carriers like AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, or Verizon Wireless may be tempted to follow U.S. Cellular’s lead. Those three large national carriers have said that if T-Mobile is successful with its new business model, they may eventually offer similar plans on their networks. Given U.S. Cellular’s smaller status as a carrier in the U.S. market, the regional carrier may not pull that much influence over the larger national carriers.

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