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Thread: USCC FAQ: Last updated on 11/8/13 - Please read before posting questions!

  1. #16
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    What is a PRL? What does it do? How do I update it?

    Special thanks and credit to HoFo user meatchicken, whose post here I adapted for this post.

    To update you PRL (Preferred Roaming List), simply dial *228 while NOT roaming (it shouldn't matter if you're in your home market or not). It takes about a minute, is a free call, and your phone will reset (turn itself off, then back on) after programming is complete. An automated voice will tell you if the PRL was successfully loaded or not.

    If you are in the Chicago area, you will have an odd-numbered PRL. Everywhere else uses an even-numbered PRL. The primary difference is that in Chicago, Verizon and uscc don't roam off of each other. This is not the case elsewhere, as Verizon is our primary roaming partner in many markets.

    EV-DO PRL's will begin with 15XXX, 1x PRL's begin with 39XXX. The PRL update frequency varys from a few days to a couple of months, so I won't post the latest version here. Someone will usually post whenever a new PRL is released.

    Note: Although EV-DO does have a different PRL than 1x, at this point there is no EV-DO roaming, so that merely enables your phone to see the EV-DO network. When in a non-EV-DO area, or while roaming, you will fall back to the standard 1x PRL.

    What It DOES Do:

    It loads into the handset, over-the-air, a software "list" of Cellular Systems ("carriers"), that your phone is allowed to scan for, *after* it loses or can't find a uscc signal. Your phone may or may not display "roam" or "roaming", but it will display a triangle (point up) near the signal strength meter. (note: some manufacturers, notably Audiovox, use an "R" instead.)

    The PRL list is set up in area groups, & in a priority order, so for example, in City "A", the phone, after losing a uscc signal, will know to first attempt to find Alltel before Sprint, ect.
    If uscc has a system in the area, it is always first in priority over other companies such as Sprint or Alltel, and will be looked for first, regardless of weather or not another carrier has a tower closer to your location or a higher signal strength.

    Most phones will also re-power up/initialize after downloading the PRL.

    USCC seems to release a new/updated PRL every 30-75 Days or so.

    Doing a PRL update more often, such as once a week, is harmless & will result in simply writing the same PRL file over itself.

    New updates can and have both added & removed "partner" roaming systems, depending on uscc and how they want their phones to roam in any given area.

    It may help with border roaming (picking up another carriers tower outside your coverage area).

    What It DOES NOT Do:

    Contrary to the seemingly endless loads of mis-information & rumor on the net, *228 DOES NOT:

    Have anything to do with any individual towers, or accessing newly built towers. If a company builds a new tower near your home, that new tower is already part of an existing system (SID - System IDentification), which either is already listed in the PRL, or isn't. Only entire SID's are in a PRL. There is no way for uscc to add or block any individual new or old towers via the PRL. That's not how the PRL works. Period.

    The PRL update can't increase a weak native uscc signal strength issue. If your phone is already locked onto a "1 bar" uscc signal in a given area, nothing in the PRL list is going to instruct the phone to drop its native uscc coverage, & look for another company's signal instead. There are no roaming partners listed in the PRL that have a higher priority than the local uscc signal. However, there are going to be areas within your local coverage area that you will roam occasionally. In this event, the PRL will step in to determine who you roam on, and the billing system will not bill you roaming charges. Also, on a related note, n/w's and incoming will still count while roaming, as long as you are picking up a tower within your local coverage. Other programming in the phone determines at what signal strength the phone will "give up" on native uscc coverage and search for a roaming partner.

    The phone's internal PRL list has absolutley NOTHING to do with anything, once you are "in a call", and at that time the PRL is as dormant as a game or other not-in-use software entry in the phone. The PRL is not used at all during an actual call in progress. The cellular system, during a call in progress, has full control, and the system end decides what cells to hand off your call to, and any issues/problems, such as a dropped call, or any other "in call" issues/problems in a given system, have nothing to do with the internal PRL list, & can't be fixed by *228.

    Updating the PRL has nothing to due with any problems relating to earpiece volume, battery charging, screen contrast, voice quality ect...except that after a *228 the phone might restart, so any odd quirk that might have gone away by shutting the phone off & turning it back on, may also "coincidentally" go away after a PRL update.

    The actual firmware version of the phone can not be changed or updated thru a *228 call, either. Firmware can only be updated in a uscc store or by the manufacturer of the phone.

    *228 also has nothing to do with whether or not you are billed roaming. That is completely handled by the billing system, and is completely depending on the "coverage area" associated with the price plan in effect when the call is reported to the billing system. In my experience, that is usually no more than 3-5 days, but, by FCC regulations, can take up to 60 days. Depending on when the call was placed in relation to your billing cycle, this means that a roaming call could take up to 3 bills before it shows up. As I said, it usually won't, but it's good to be aware that it can happen.

    Additional technical info, courtesy of our very own towermaster:

    Quote Originally Posted by CDG Reference Document #130
    The PRL header information describes the properties of the whole PRL. These properties describe aspects such as its name (or identity), default behavior and the type of PRL.

    The acquisition table contains acquisition records. An acquisition record provides the band and frequencies that the mobile station is to use when searching to acquire a system. Acquisition records are listed in priority order (highest priority first) in the acquisition table. The channels in the CHAN field of the records are also listed in the priority order.

    The system table contains records describing a system. The system table is divided into one or more distinct segments; these are called geographical areas, or GEOs. A system record belongs to a geographical area. A geographical region would normally be used to group a set of systems found in the same physical region. Certain other aspects of a system record only have relevance within the context of a GEO, e.g. priority. A system, in the context of the system table, is identified by its SID and NID. Each system table record has an indicator, which determines within which geographic area a particular system belongs.

    Other indicators declare whether the system is preferred (permitted) or negative (prohibited). Allowed systems can have relative priority with respect to each other within a geographic region, effectively making some systems more preferred than others. The priority that a system has is relative to the other systems in the same GEO. The most referred system is the most desired system and what the mobile device will always try to obtain for service. There is no limit to the number of priorities that can be present within a GEO. There can be multiple systems of equal priority. The PRL assists the mobile in the acquisition and system selection process as governed by the system determination algorithms of the particular implementation. The PRL informs the devices system determination function as to which systems are permitted, preferred and prohibited. The use of a PRL speeds up acquisition and provides the operator with flexibility in specifying mobile search behavior in both the home and roaming markets.

    The operator is able to specify whether a roam condition is to be indicated on the mobiles display and, in the case where the extended roaming indicators (ERI) are supported, a richer set of indicators can be selected for display. The PRL can be stored in either NV-RAM or RUIM. An initial or default PRL would be loaded prior to distribution. A new PRL can be loaded at a customer service center using service programming tools or over the air using Over the Air Service Provisioning (OTASP). Although the PRL is defined in the OTASP specification, OTASP systems are not required in order to use PRLs. However, OTASP facilitates ease of updates once handsets are in the customers hands and as new roaming partners are added.

    User Initiated PRL Download
    This is the more common technique, and requires that the user take the initial action by
    making a call using the activation feature code: *ACT or *228.
    User dials the OTA feature code (*ACT)
    User selects PRL update at voice response unit (VRU) prompt
    OTA platform selects the appropriate PRL to send to the device based on factors including handset, service plan, etc.
    OTA platform downloads PRL to the user over its IS-725 data connection to the MSC and then over the air using the IS-683 protocol
    VRU may play music during this time
    Handset resets on completion of the PRL download

    Network Initiated PRL Download
    This is where the network initiates an OTAPA session with the mobile device and performs the PRL download without user intervention. This requires that both the network and the device are OTAPA capable and that the OTAPA capability is not disabled.

    A subscriber parameter administration security mechanism (SPASM) exists to ensure that only authorized entities can download to the device. When the device parameters are protected, the mobile device requests a 'signature' from the network and, at the same time, calculates a signature itself. The OTA system, upon receiving the devices challenge, will request the HLR to obtain an authentication signature (from the authentication center). The OTA system forwards the signature to the MS. Only when the MS reports that the two signatures match can the PRL download proceed.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 10-17-2007 at 07:18 PM.







  2. #17
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    Signal Insurance

    Cost: $5.95
    Standard smartphone Deductible: $100
    Standard dumbphone Deductible: $50
    Deductible for "extended warranty": $25

    How do I add it?
    It can be added at the point of sale or you can call CS or go to the store to add the feature at any time. Unless the phone is brand new, or if the feature is added at a different time, a test call needs to be made. This merely verifies that the phone is working at the time the insurance was added. We CSR's are human, so don't be afraid to ask for a test call if you call to add this feature and we forget. This will avoid any problems when it comes time to make a claim.

    What phones can be covered by Signal?
    Any phone carried by uscc, including such high end phones as the RAZR and the BlackBerry. No extra monthly fee or higher deductible is charged.

    What phone will I get if I make a claim?
    The first option, when possible, is to give you a new or refurbished same model replacement. If your exact model is not available, whether it's just temporarily out-of-stock or a retired phone, a phone with similar features will be substituted. This phone will vary depending on what is currently available, but the first choice will be to substitute with that model's successor, when there is one. Example: LG VX6000's are typically replaced with LG VX6100's, when they're out of VX6000's. You are not guaranteed to get a replacement from the same manufacturer. However, if Signal has to send a different model phone, they will also send a battery, charger, and manual. When you call in the claim, the rep will be able to tell you what replacement phone you'll get.

    How do I make the claim?
    Call The Signal at 1-800-480-0167. Hours are (Central time):
    Monday -Friday 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    Saturday 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    Sunday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
    Or you can file online at https://claim.thesignal.com/ClaimInstructions.aspx

    How do I check a claim?
    Claim status can be checked at any time at http://www.thesignal.com/Claims/ClaimStatus.aspx or by calling the number above. After business hours, you can still check claim status through the automated system.

    What will I need to make a claim?
    Your phone's manufacturer and model and ESN/MEID, which can be obtained via CS, if you're not certain. Also, you'll need the date that the incident happened. The ESN/MEID MUST have been active on the account on the date of the incident. Activating a loaner phone during the claim process will not void the claim. Very important that these three items be correct, as incorrect information can result in a denied claim. Also, for a lost phone, Signal will send you a form that MUST be filled out and returned, certifying that the phone is lost. For a stolen phone, you'll need a police report number.

    What's covered?
    Lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged equipment. The "extended warranty" covers any mechanical or electrical malfunction that would normally be covered by the manufacturer's warranty. The "extended warranty" only applies to the original owner, and does not kick in until the manufacturer's warranty expires, but covers the phone for the next four years. Any claim for things covered under the manufacturer's warranty will be denied and you'll be referred to the manufacturer.

    What happens is my Signal replacement is faulty?
    For refurbished phones, you're covered for the first 90 days. Just call Signal and they'll send another replacement at no extra cost.

    For new phones, you're covered by Signal for the first 30 days. After that, you're covered by the normal manufactuerer's warranty. The "Bill of Lading" that comes with the phone is your "proof of purchase" to determine the warranty's start/end date. Without it, the manufacturer will go by the date code on the phone.

    A letter is included with the replacement phone, so you'll know whether it's new or a refurb. New phones come in the same manufacturer box that you'd get at the store. Used equipment comes in a plain box. (This is the phone box, not the external shipping box.) You can also call Signal, and they'll be able to tell you.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 10-27-2010 at 05:44 PM.

  3. #18
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    Phones For Sale: A Few Rules

    Please post phones for sell in the USCC BST subforum.

    1) No eBay link threads. If you want to put the link in your sig, that's fine. Reduces the clutter of dead links in the forum.

    2) No "group buys" without Howard's permission. This is clearly stated in the forum rules.

    3) Volume sellers. If you continually have used phones to sell, please contact Howard via the "Advertising" link at the top of the forum. Per the main B/S/T rules, anything over 2 new or 5 used phones in a month qualifies as a volume seller.

    4) Post an asking price. You will get more feedback this way. If no asking price is posted, I will remove the thread.

    5) Include a list of all included accessories. Also useful is a list of any included games that have been purchased from EE.

    6) Please post in the thread when the phone is sold. This will not only benefit all of us (so we know if it's still for sale or not), but also the seller, as it will reduce pointless posts and PM's for a phone that's already sold. If you like, you can PM me, and I'll lock the thread (this is optional).

    7) If you have a pic of your phone, please post it. This allows us to see the condition of the phone and accessories. Free hosting space can be found at such websites as www.photobucket.com

    8) Posting in B/S/T threads is limited to comments relevant to the phone in question. Any off-topic comments will be removed, and continued violation can result in a ban.

    I know we're all grown-ups here, so I just wanted to lay down a few ground rules, so that there's no confusion later on. If you have questions about this subject (or any other) that isn't addressed here, feel free to PM me about it. Thanks for your cooperation.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 09-12-2007 at 10:26 AM.

  4. #19
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    USCC HoFo Frapper Map

    Just a fun thing I set up. Add yourself to the map if you want. Just use your username from here, so we know who you are. Pictures optional.

    http://www.frappr.com/uscchofo
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 02-20-2006 at 12:27 AM.

  5. #20
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    USCC HoFo IRC Channel

    Link: http://www.blitzed.org/chat
    Channel: #USCellular

    A few notes from nevergonnauseth, who has revamped this channel a bit:
    Within this new IRC channel lies a few changes

    1. I will try to be logged in at all times. If I am not there, type out my name. It should alert me to check the window

    2. The channel is for help and offtopic discussion. This means if you have a question no matter how n00bish it maybe, please feel free to ask it.

    3. Because of rule number 2, we will get a lot of weird, over stated, and just plan wrong questions. If you need to get your flame on, go grab a smoke. This channel is just for anyone who needs to ask a quick question or doesn't understand a topic posted.
    Alternately, you can use the Chatzilla extension for Firefox, or any other IRC client, such as mIRC. The IM application Trillian also includes IRC support.

    Courtesy of our very own Jake15.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 08-15-2006 at 12:05 AM.

  6. #21
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    USCC Facebook page

    This is a Facebook group that ilvla2 set up for us to enjoy, so if you have a Facebook page, feel free to add yourself:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gi...3249122&ref=mf

    In addition, there is also an official uscc facebook page: www.facebook.com/uscellular
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 11-17-2009 at 01:25 AM.

  7. #22
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    How do Night and Weekend minutes work?

    1) When making a call that starts during peak time and ends during off-peak time or vice versa, only the peak portion of the call is billed as such. Example: a call starts at 8:50 pm and ends at 9:10 pm (assuming you have 9pm nights), only 10 minutes would be billed as peak.

    2) When outside of your home time zone, your night start time is based on where the phone is located when the call is placed. Example: your home is Iowa (Central time zone), but you are on a current National plan traveling in California. Your nights will start at 7pm/9pm (depending on your plan) Pacific time. The time shown on your phone is the time that the system will log the call. Note: if you are near a time zone divider, you could be registered on a tower that is in a different time zone than you are. Example: you are traveling in extreme western Kansas, which is Central time zone. However, you may be roaming on a tower in Colorado, in which case, your calls will log as Mountain time zone. In this case, it may be 9pm where you are, but your phone will display 8pm, due to the time zone difference. It's also possible that you could travel into Colorado, but your phone will not immediately hand off to a tower in Colorado. In this instance, if it's 9pm in Colorado, your phone would display 10pm, since it's still registering in Kansas. This can also affect you if you are near an area that does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, such as Arizona or parts of Indiana. Always check the display on your phone to verify the time to determine the system time. This will tell you whether your call will bill as peak or off-peak.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 05-31-2007 at 09:26 AM.

  8. #23
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    What order are my minute buckets used?

    Ignore any features that you do not have. This will cover pretty much every plan that uscc has released in the last 5 years or so.

    1) Incoming/Call-Me
    2) Nights and Weekends
    3) Recurring Bonus Minutes
    4) M2M
    5) Package Minutes
    6) One-Time (use or lose) Bonus Minutes
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 07-21-2008 at 02:58 AM.

  9. #24
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    Where can I find the latest rebate offer and forms?

    The latest offer, downloadable forms, and the eligible dates for the current offer can be found here: https://www.web-rebates.com/uscellular/forms.asp

  10. #25
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    What is an authorized user, and what can they do?

    An authorized user is simply someone that the account holder has authorized to act on their behalf for account transactions.

    The account holder can specify how much authority the authorized user will have, from information only up to "full" authorization. An authorized user can also be restricted to specific lines on the account.

    A few things can only be done by the account holder, and cannot be delegated to an authorized user. Primarily, only the account holder can add new lines, cancel service, and renew contracts. Also, only the account holder can change a number.

  11. #26
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    Can I password protect my account?

    Absolutely. In this day and age, uscc actually encourages it. The password can be added in store, or over the phone, once the account holder has been verified.

    A password can only be added or changed by the account holder, but can be specific on a per user basis (each authorized user can have their own password).

    If you forget your password, the only option is to go to a store, where you can be verified by photo ID.

  12. #27
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    What are my data options?

    Belief plan data options
    There are 4 options:

    "Plus" plans: The Essential Plus and Premium Plus plans include 5 GB of data per line for any type phone. This includes use of Your Navigator Deluxe on smartphones.

    non-"Plus" plans:

    pay-as-you-go - $3/day for unlimited. This option is not available for smartphones.
    50 MB/month - $15/month. This option is not available for smartphones.
    5 GB/month - $30/month. Includes Your Navigator Deluxe on smartphones.

    Pre-Belief plan data options
    There are 4 types of phones that determine your data options:

    Windows Mobile
    These are phones that run a version of the Windows Mobile platform. You have one option - Unlimited data and emaiil for $30 per month. Add $5 per month for data only (no voice).

    BlackBerry
    These are phones that run a version of the BlackBerry OS. Since this is exclusive to RIM, the phone will say BlackBerry on the front. You have two options:

    1) $40: Unlimited data, email, PIN messaging, and BES access. If you need to have push email, and the mail server is a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), you'll need this package. Add $5 per month for data only.

    2) $30: Unlimited data, emaiil, and PIN messaging. If you only need to access email that is on a NON-BES (exchange, Novell, etc), this package will do fine. Add $5 per month for data only.

    Android
    These are phones that run a version of the Android platform. You have one option - Unlimited data and emaiil for $30 per month. Add $5 per month for data only (no voice).

    non-Smartphones
    These are the regular phones, like the RAZR, UX260, etc. These phones will have "easyedge" in the main menu (signified by the uscc star logo), and may have a dedicated key to access (right on the D-pad for the UX260, for example). There is no data-only option for these phones, but you do have 4 options:

    1) Pay-as-you-go: no monthly charge, $3/MB when you use it. Includes My Contacts Backup at no charge. There is also no charge to browse the catalog.

    2) Unlimited easyedge: $9.95/month, includes unlimited data, My Contacts Backup, and easyedge To Go. This package is ideal for those who do not want to surf the web or do email, but do use applications like accuweather, which use large amounts of data.

    3) Mobile Internet Unlimited: $14.95/month, includes unlimited data, My Contacts Backup, internet browsing (with the free Mobile Internet app, which includes all of the easyedge To Go content), and Unlimited email (with the free Email app). The Mobile Internet and Email apps will not appear in the catalog unless you are on this plan, or the bundles (options 4 and 5) below. Visit here to view a current list of phones that should have access to these apps.

    4) Unlimited Messaging and Mobile Internet: $24.95/month, includes unlmited text, picture, and video messaging, as well as everything in the $14.95 package above. Note: this plan does not cover data on a Premium phone (option 6 below) or a smartphone (see above).

    5) Family Unlimited Messaging and Mobile Internet: $49.95/month, includes unlmited text, picture, and video messaging, as well as everything in the $14.95 package above. This covers all lines on a family plan (not available with the older ShareTalk plans). Note: this plan does not cover data on a Premium phone (option 6 below) or a smartphone (see above). However, if you have a mix of smart/premium phones and regular phones, it will cover the regular phones on the account.

    6) Premium Mobile Internet: $19.95/month, includes unlimited data, My Contacts Backup, internet browsing (with the embedded HTML browser on these handsets), Unlimited email (with the free Email app), and unlimited Your Navigator (new version 4.0 with traffic updates and gas price finder). This package is only available on, and is required on, certain premium handsets, such as the Samsung Delve, that have a full HTML browser and other applications embedded in the handset. Phones that require this plan will be highlighted in the FAQ, similar to smartphones.

    All smartphone plans above also include Your Navigator Deluxe at no extra cost. Smart and Premium phones (highlighted in the FAQ) require the appropriate data plan as long as the phone is active.

    Tethering access can also be added to any of the above smartphone plans (BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Android) for $25. This will give you 5 GB of tethering usage. This will work with any smartphone uscc has sold except the BlackBerry 7250.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 10-27-2010 at 05:57 PM.

  13. #28
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    Will Facebook updates work with my uscc phone?

    At this time, it is not officially supported by Facebook. However, the following workaround was discovered by pridesticks06:

    1) Go to your Facebook account settings.
    2) Select the Mobile tab.
    3) Register your cell number as a Verizon number (Note: you will NOT receive the code they send)
    4) Go to your home page, and you will see a pending notification. Select it.
    5) Request a new code. Do not change the country.
    6) Enter the code you receive and you are activated.

  14. #29
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    Device(s)
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    my USCC Firmware List

    -models with "**" in front of them indicate that there has been an update since the phone's initial launch

    Current as of 8-18-09

    -MOTO-

    V323- 04.2A.03
    V323i- 01.12.00
    **V3c- 04.09.00
    **V3m- 01.1E.00
    **L7c- 00.26.1A
    **K1m- 00.26.1A (PR K1m launched with this)
    **W385- 02.22.17
    **Z6m- 03.03.04
    **V9m- 02.0D.0C
    Bronze V9m- 02.0E.07
    **Q9c- MP_BSP_C_04.09.56I_N_P3.0
    **VE20- 00.47.05 or 00.15.51, depending on chipset
    **QA30- 01.12.0C

    -LG-

    **UX260- V05
    **UX265- V05
    **UX280 - V03
    **UX300- V04
    **UX355- V05
    **UX380- V04
    UX390- V03
    **UX565- V06
    **UX585- V05
    **UX830- V04
    **UX840- V05

    -Samsung-

    **A850- ZK23
    A870- AE31
    U340- AF23
    U520- AF19
    R500- AJ05
    R610- AJ10
    **R800- BL09
    R470- BL05
    U440- CD17
    R311- CD2

    -KYOCERA-

    E1000- VN1.0.05
    E2000- WD1004
    **E1100- WW1004 (just a PRI update though! The firmware version remains the same so you can't tell unless the box had a sticker. Weird but hey it's relevant)


    -BB-

    **8830- 4.5.0.138
    **8130- 4.5.0.66
    8130m (MEID version of this handset)- 4.5.0.138
    **8330- 4.5.0.66
    8330m (MEID version of this handset)- 4.5.0.138
    8230- V4.6.1.208

    -HTC-

    6800- 2.17.557.0
    **6900- 3.01.573.4
    **6850- 1.08.573.2
    Last edited by Nicholas; 08-18-2009 at 01:00 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixGeek
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  15. #30
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    0
    Using your phone as a modem

    US Cellular will now allow you to use your smartphone as a modem ("tethering"). Please note that at this time this is only offered on smartphones. Below are some bullet points about it.

    • The service requires a $25/month package
    • 5gb limit for usage. This includes the data usage of from tethering and the smartphone, not 5gb's each
    • Overage rate is 25 cents per megabyte
    • Available on most smartphones BUT not all of them
    • For either type of smartphone you will need software to do this. For a Blackberry you will need the Blackberry Desktop Manager. For a WM phone you will need Activesync. Specifics can be found at the links below



    Instructions for tethering a Blackberry smartphone can be found here.

    Instructions for tethering a Windows Mobile smartphone can be found here.

    Instructions for tethering an Android smartphone can be found here.
    Last edited by tearsonurcheek; 10-27-2010 at 06:05 PM.

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