Friday, May 18, 2018

Phoenix Communications May Not Rise Again

Phoenix Communications was the cellular operation of the Oklahoma Western Telephone Company which has been taken over by Hilliary Communications.  Hilliary claims they will be upgrading the network and are no longer accepting new customers.  It looks like they are still using the network for their wireless home phone customers but the future of cellular service is in question.


Hilliary completely cancelled the web site that displayed Phoenix products giving us the impression that this Phoenix shall not rise again.  FCC records show that Hilliary has applied for the FCC Connect America Fund Phase II Auction.  If they win funds for cellular operation under that program, we expect the network to be upgraded and will offer wireless service once again.  If not, we expect they'll offer the network and licenses for sale to a neighboring or national carrier. Our Mountain Wireless Network Reports has normally rated Phoenix with a "1", the lowest possible, so it won't take much to improve their service.

Monday, April 30, 2018

10 Reasons to Oppose a T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

There's is much you can read about the new Sprint and T-Mobile tie-up.  Here at the Noise, we'll just list what we expect will happen:

1. There Will Be No Low-Cost Alternative:
Today Sprint offers some astounding deals, and T-Mobile has done so in the past.  There will be much less need to compete at such low price points.

2. There Will Be No More Unlimited Plans:
In Canada, where there are only 3 national networks, unlimited data plans are not offered.  They tried to eliminate them here.  With 3 networks, they should succeed in shutting those plans down.

3. Many Customers Will Need a New Phone:
The surviving network most likely will be GSM.  If so, your Sprint phone (as well as Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and few dozen others) will be a paper weight.

4. Alternative Prepaid Carriers Could Feel the Pain:
With so few networks to choose from, MVNO's (the cellular re-sellers) like TracFone, Straight Talk, and ultra-low cost carriers like FreedomPop and Twigby will probably raise prices.

5. Some Carriers May Disappear:
In addition to the alternative carriers mentioned above, there may be no need to offer alternatives by the Top 3 carriers themselves.  Will they really need MetroPCS, Cricket, or Virgin Mobile to keep customers?

6. Stores May Close:
Who needs a store when everything can be purchased online?  What about the separate wireless stores in Walmart, Costco and Best Buy?  Do you remember Barnes and Noble?

7. The Combination Could Take Years to Complete:
A certain level of uncertainty could be a real pain in the neck.  Why buy a phone now knowing you'll need a new one?  What if the deal falls through?  How long will it take to change the cell site near you?

8. Coverage Changes:
In the past, duplicate cell sites were switched off.  Those sites could be the ones you used and you may be forced to change networks, and maybe phones, to get coverage back.

9. The Big Get Bigger:
Many of us enjoy doing business with a smaller, and often scrappier, company.  There won't be any.

10. The Small Go Away:  
There are over 60 small carriers in the US and they will face fewer but larger competitors.  There's also a good chance their roaming charges will increase and kill what small profit they have today.

It's just a list...

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Mountain Wireless Move

For over 17 years we have supported both MountainWireless.COM and MountainWireless.NET as 2 separate but complimentary sites.  Recently, we decided we didn't need to duplicate our efforts.  Since the objective of our MountainWireless sites was reviews of cellular networks, settling on .NET made sense.  However, we had no idea how many inward links were directed to the .COM site and changing that has been a seemingly unending task.


It would be great if we could send a note to everyone who wanted to use that site or to all the search engines, to use the new, .NET address, but it doesn't work that way.  We just hope that if we mention it in a few places like here at the Noise, a few people will notice that the same info on all the US cellular carriers is now found at a new address, which is actually our old address.

Sadly, the Internet doesn't take kindly to these kind of changes.  We hope the site that has announced the closing of so many US wireless carriers over the years doesn't need to close itself down, too.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pace Cellular Becomes Kaptel Wireless & Disappears

Last year we reported on one of the best-kept wireless secrets about cellular carries that shut down their own network and start offering one of the Top 4 network products as their own.  While we prefer wireless companies that keep their own network going, this is a better choice than just turning out the lights and going away.  These carriers who re-sell products of the larger networks often provide a more local and  personal customer service than the major networks can from a far-away call center.  This often means the wireless user get a better network but still does business with a local company.


Most recently we discovered that Pace Cellular of Louisiana changed their name to Kaptel Wireless, similar to their parent telecom, Kaplan Telephone Company.  We lost Pace as an independent network operator before the name change but Pace was a marginal carrier and now Kaplan customers will have access to a much better wireless product, with a local face.  Pace has not reported what has become of their own wireless spectrum but I'm sure it's buried in the FCC records if someone wants to look.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Unlimited Data for a Buck!

We've been giving credit to Sprint for coming up with some wild promotions which are actually a good deal on a good performing network.  Another wild plan from the same corporate headquarters is Virgin Mobile's $1 for 6 months Unlimited promotion.  You can buy one of their iPhones...because that's all they sell...or you can bring your own compatible phone and get the same plan.  At the end of the 6 months you switch to their $50 Unlimited plan...it's the only plan the have...which is a good enough deal for a single line.


While Virgin needs to do something to get noticed after sleeping for the last few years, this is a nice wake up call, especially if you think you really need an Unlimited plan.  I found out certain members of my family were looking for a way to resurrect their old iPhone and this just may be the ticket.  We also gotta tell you we get a commission on Virgin Mobile purchases made from this page, however, we did not get paid for this article.  Got it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Oh No, Sprint & T-Mobile Talk Again!

The T-Mobile and Sprint zombie that was hoped to be dead is once again alive!  You've probably heard this already and Mike Dano at Fierce Wireless offers a good explanation of why this is happening, and why now.  We agree that Sprint needs to be rescued, just not by T-Mobile.  The spectre of only 3 major carriers in the US is horrifying.  Yes, the new demands of spectrum and rising competition make the wireless world more complicated, but no matter how much we are told, "Bigger is Better," we still have no reason to believe it.


Just look at our neighbor to the north.  Canadian wireless users has cried for years about high prices. Their national government tried to expand the spectrum available, only to have what few new carriers appeared, be gobbled up by their Big 3.  Don't drink the Kool-Aid!  Make some noise.  The few visitors to this and similar sites may be the only ones who know the devil lurking just behind the "Bigger is Better" smoke screen.  All we need is a white knight with deep pockets, or an overwhelming amount of common sense at the federal government level.  We've been surprised before.  Is the man behind the curtain about to speak?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Voice Mail Back Doors Closing?

Last year I got a phone call from a party who wanted all of the possible "Back Door" voice mail numbers, as if we were not showing all of them on our Back Door Voice Mail number list.  He mentioned a "bulk" use of these numbers.  I gave him nothing.  I realized he wanted to spam every number that was available through these Back Door numbers, and could easily do so with just the information on our web pages.  I found the method for this to happen and realized how it will go down. And go down it did.

Recently I was alerted that many of the remaining voice mail access numbers no longer offer the option, "To leave a message for another subscriber, enter their number." Fortunately, the function still works on some of the numbers regardless of the lack of the prompt. How long before the spammers cause the entire Back Door to close?


Many of these numbers were used for callers to contact a mobile customer who was roaming outside their home area...what an ancient concept. As a result, the wireless companies have been slowly retiring these numbers, with a few disappearing every few months. Then we would receive the wrath from those customers wanting to know why their number was published on our site.

This explains how spam messages appear in your voice mail box without hearing the phone ring. It's another technical function now used for evil instead of for good. We will keep the numbers posted until they have been reassigned.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Northwest Missouri Cellular Name Change

Northwest Missouri Cellular...whew, not a very snappy name, eh?  Well, 2 good things have happened.  They have shortened the name to NorthwestCell, bringing to mind green forests and rainy days.  But it's not Seattle, it's Missouri.

The other good news is that when a company goes to the trouble and expense of a name change, it means they are willing to invest in other parts of their operation as well.  NorthwestCell appears to have finally upgraded their entire network to 4G - LTE.  Otherwise, not much else seemed to have changed. They still maintain a large selection of plans that still seem to be a bit overpriced.  Fortunately, their coverage is excellent.


Bravado Wireless of rural Oklahoma changed their name last year and with the change came quite a few improvements in their plan structure.   Customers get excited at something new but if they eventually find the same old tired product, they may feel cheated.  And cheated customers rarely return.   We're hoping that NorthwestCell at least applies a nice new coat of paint to their stores...if they still have any.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Focus on America's Small Carriers

A few years ago there were well over a hundred wireless carriers in the US.  Today that number is closer to 70.  Most of those networks are now in survival mode and we're here to make sure their story gets told.  Most of us are familiar with the Top 4 cellular companies.  Our objective at Mountain Wireless is to help the other 66 networks rise up in our collective conscience.  Very few of them involve a sacrifice in products or services.  Some have better prices than the major carriers and some have much better customer service.  They just need to get noticed.


Before you jump from one of the Top 4 to another, consult our Local Reviews page and see if one of these smaller-but-better carriers serves your neighborhood.  We host a narrative of what's available based on location, including how they compare with the major wireless companies.

We would also like to send a heads-up to those smaller carriers that it's time to consider a hook-up with a neighboring carrier instead of selling out to one of the majors.  Yes, they're the ones who have the cash to at least help the exiting owner catch up on his bills on the way out the door, but we'd rather see some holding of hands, a little singing of Kumbaya and maybe yield a new top 10 carrier.  It wouldn't take much.