Thursday, October 30, 2008

Online Coverage Finders

All our Mountain Wireless cellular maps were transferred to a new web site last spring and have grown quite a bit since then. One of the things they added that has been surprisingly useful is a Cellular Coverage Finder page that is nothing more than links to the 'coverage locators' of the Top 9 carriers.

Previously, if you were looking for the carrier with the best coverage in one particular location, and needed a greater degree of detail than the Cellular Map Source web site would provide, you would then go to each individual cellular carrier's web site and seek out their Coverage "Viewer." With the Cellular Map Coverage Finder Page, not only can we get links to all the locators in one place, we can open each one in a separate window and compare them as we see fit.

The good news is that some carriers provide a good level of detail, especially T-Mobile. The bad news is that some carriers don't show any variation in the quality of signal to expect, and others, especially Alltel, are nearly useless. There are 3 different links to Alltel maps to give you a choice of the most usable map for you. There are a handful of carriers who just show you a map of the US with most of the country colored in. Are we supposed to be impressed?

So the next time you want to know if your phone will 'play in Peoria', there's a new convenient way to find out. We love it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Revisiting the RAZR

It depends on who you talk to, right? We recently reported that the Motorola RAZR phone was still on top of the cellular phone sales charts, only to find subsequent reports show that model missing from other lists entirely. A study from Avian Research, shows that not only is the RAZR not in the top 10, all but 2 phones in that category are "smart" phones, in other words, phones that have more than the normal 12 to 16-button keyboard.

The top of that list is the Blackberry Curve which has a substantial lead over the next place occupant, the Apple iPhone. While these PDA-type phones hold less than 20% of the US handset market, it looks like they are gaining fast. We may be living in a wrong-sized world, but we still believe our phones should get smaller and our TV's should get bigger, not the other way around.

The Verizon Juke seems to be the right-sized phone for us right now, however, the keyboard is still quite a challenge. Just maybe, the new G-Phone from T-Mobile could sit in our car console, but in our pocket? No.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Getting Out of Your Cellular Contract

It's still a big deal and it's one of the biggest headaches with cellular phones. Fortunately, some cellular carriers are making it a little easier to either change your phone, adjust your account, or just leave. But there are still times when you just want to get away from your current cellular carrier and they just want to play hardball.

We have collected 10 ways to get out of your cellular contract, and a number 11 to help you avoid the problem in the future. Some require a lot of work, and others are as easy as getting the courage to walk away. All of them have worked for one user or another. Let's hope one works for you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Web Site Review

A process that started last spring is complete. The Mountain web site got way too large so it has been split into several other sites. Maps went to, the cell site finder went to, PRL's, SID's and MNC's went to, and last week, the "info" parts of our web site went to CellularBack The final goal is to focus Mountain Wireless just on Reviews and Ratings.

Some of these new web sites are operated by us, and some by others. The immediate result has been more detailed and current information available on these sites. For now, most of the pages are interconnected, so addresses that worked before should work in the future, even though they have been moved.

Along the way we made a few mistakes and started web sites that didn't work and we'll just leave them alone until they expire. Also, there are pages that have just plain old been deleted due to lack of interest. A few of our State Review pages have been consolidated along with the consolidation of the cellular carriers themselves.

It would be wise to update your Bookmarks and Favorites if you see your favorite pages appear at a new address. Expect updates and new pages, as soon as tomorrow, and we'll talk about them here and on each site's "What"s New" column. If you lose a page or find an erroneous link, please Let Us Know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Verizon Sacrifices More Alltel Markets

Recently Verizon Wireless added another handful of markets they are willing to spin off to encourage the feds to approve their acquisition of Alltel. We would guess that Verizon may have found a buyer for the isolated properties and have already determined the economic impact of losing them. Obviously they don't need those properties, they feel it may help their FCC application, and that it makes economic sense to do so. After all, if you're going to spend $28 Billion, how much can you realistically throw away and still get your money's worth? And they need to be careful who they throw it to...

The map of Verizon's Alltel and Unicel spin offs shows these markets are in widely separated areas, so any buyer will really need help in making such a non-contiguous network succeed...which may be Verizon's intent. Unless you want to be a major player in the Dakotas, there aren't many purchasers who would want the whole enchilada, unless you're AT&T, or Verizon sells at a good buddy price.

The FCC is expected to vote on the acquisition on November 4th. If there are any further restrictions, Verizon could easily determine it isn't worth it and walk away, and pay a hefty penalty. Even their sources of money are getting cold feet. We still hope Alltel survives as a separate company. But if they too are suffering from the high cost of money, who do think should bail them out? Don't look at me, I just bailed out the spa-soaking executives at AIG.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The RAZR is Still King

We have used a number of Motorola phones over the years, but never a RAZR. I see them in the hands of people from all walks of life. I just thought that a large part of the population looked at the upper-crust and early adopters with envy, and when the price of the RAZR dropped to free, the masses were ready to jump on board.

Well, it turns out, according to the NPD Group, the RAZR is still the #1 selling phone in the US. We agree it's a nice phone, but it's just too BIG. When Motorola released the KRZR, I thought they had perfected the RAZR with a phone that was just the right size...thin and not too wide. My wife chose one in hot red. I watched her cling lovingly to her KRZR and I decided it would be my next choice when my contract came up. Well, they stopped selling the KRZR before I had the chance.

While Motorola has since come out with phones similar to the KRZR, the RAZR just keeps humming along, the V3 model being the most popular. But it's so BIG. My wife had a year or two of "my phone's smaller than yours" among her students who all seemed to have RAZR's. However, they must not have had KRZR-envy because most of them upgraded to the iPhone. So at least now she can say, "my phone's MUCH smaller than yours". They reply, "yeah, but..." But then it's too late. Gotta go.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sprint Ready to Sell Nextel

Sprint has been trying to spin off their Nextel assets and the Wall Street Journal reports there are potential buyers. Once upon a time there was rumor that the original developers of Nextel were interested, but that never panned out.

Last spring, after we noticed how happy Mexican Nextel users were of their service, we became even more critical of how Sprint was treating the division, and thought the only hope for Nextel survival was to sell it. Coincidentally, one of the interest parties is from Latin America, NII Holdings. After seeing the warm reception from users and the great coverage offered throughout Mexico, a buyer from south of the border could be a great idea. Other investment firms are looking, too.

The fly in this ointment is how much debt Sprint wants to dump into the deals, and even worse, how much damage they have done to the Nextel subscriber base. Nextel has a lot going for it and we hope Sprint can sell it to an operator who can give it the attention it deserves. It would also mean a brand new competitor in the wireless arena for us. C'mon Sprint, make 'em an offer they can't refuse.