Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cricket Goes Nationwide

Cricket Wireless keeps expanding and now their coverage includes roaming on most of the Sprint network. This new "Nationwide" service includes all their plans, with higher-priced plans offering more features. Prices start at $30 per month and that includes all the Unlimited Talk you want. Talk & Text starts at $40.

Cricket, part of Leap Wireless, has been expanding into many new markets of their own, but the inclusion of roaming on Sprint and a handful of smaller carriers, makes theirs a very useful wireless product. They offer good broadband service within their own coverage and they're a good substitute for the home land line.

Rumors keep flying that Cricket and Metro PCS might combine some day, but if this new roaming deal with Sprint works out, Cricket might not need Metro. Can Metro PCS pair up with a similar roaming partner, or can they also join up with Sprint and level out the merger sandbox?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sprint Gets More 3G Love

Watching all the Verizon Wireless TV commercials, you'd think AT&T was the 2nd place 3G contender, and a distant one at that. The real #2 spot belongs to Sprint, and, at least for the time being, they are a close 2nd. Sprint even has the ability to tout "4G" coverage in a handful of markets. The economy is holding back the top 2 carriers from expanding service any faster, while Sprint has made it a bigger commitment.

When updating our 3G Comparison Map Page, I found that most carriers had made some broadband progress, but not enough for their 3G maps to show it. The exceptions are T-Mobile and US Cellular. It doesn't look like much, but T-Mobile has made great strides, especially considering they are installing equipment for completely different frequency spectrum.

This situation is going to change quickly as the new 700 MHz, 2100 MHz and other spectrum goes online, which is expected to start before the end of this year. Ah yes, the day is coming when even most desktop computers will be connecting to the nearest cellular tower. Sprint, along with the help of Clear Wireless, is aiming at that target right now. Who needs wires?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

We Want Your Mexico Experience

With a number of readers heading south of the border during the cold months and for Spring Break, we're looking for your experience using wireless in Mexico. Over the last few years we have tried every Mexican cellular service except Nextel. This year, we have only been using the roaming capabilities of US carriers instead of buying local SIM's and phones. While the challenges we had using Mexico accounts gave us something to write about, plain 'ol roaming has worked without problems...so far. And with our AT&T GoPhone, it has been relatively cheap. Expect a full report in a few weeks.

Mexico operators have been making small, but not insignificant changes to their wireless services, which may further reduce the advantage of using local Mexican cellular. The latest reports are shown on our Mexico Roaming Page. We'd like to hear your stories, either here or By Email. ¡Buen viaje!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Searching for Cellular Data

We like to add articles here at least a couple times a week. Our committee of web site operators has been using this time discussing how best to apply a Search function to our web sites. It really bothers us that when web site visitors can't find exactly what they're looking for on a web site, 80% of them just leave. We've used cross links and site maps, but creating a real Search function has been quite a challenge.

After experimenting with different formats, each of us has settled on our own format with results that will, hopefully, give you enough, but not too many, results. Our 'catch-all' Search page is at: Mountain Wireless Search. One of us likes Search boxes on a separate page, another likes it at the bottom of a page, and another likes it right in the Navigation bar. Let the Search begin.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More UN-reaction

Monday, Sprint climbed onto their soap box and crowed "Our Unlimited is better than their Unlimited." A few weeks ago we panned Sprint for bringing a knife to a gun fight by not matching the other carriers' Unlimited Talk to any number at the $69.99 price level. Sprint hung their hat on the "Any Mobile Anytime" and stood their ground. They have a point.

Now that we have looked at the big players' Unlimited plans, we have seen way too many limitations for Unlimited service. You can have more features and better phones, but you'll pay for them. Sprint reminded us that their flavor of all-you-can-eat wireless includes everything but wireline numbers. You get all the Text, Web, and other goodies you'd like, and you get it with virtually all of Sprint's phones. It once was, "Who talks that much?", now it's "Who just talks?" For a large number of users, Sprint's Unlimited everything-but-wirelines fits much better.

There have been many examples of carriers hanging a great plan in the window of their store, but when you go in to buy, it's not what you hoped for...at least not at the price you hoped for. Is it wait and switch?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Unlimited Limitations

We have been following the "Unlimited Wars" and have seen some hurdles that makes the choice difficult. Choosing one of the flat-rate carriers like Cricket or MetroPCS has been pretty straightforward...Unlimited is their main business. It's the other Unlimited offers that give us concern. When Page Plus introduced Unlimited at $40, it added new challenges to their already overburdened customer service. So we looked at paying a few bucks more and recommended Straight Talk. At $45 they offered Unlimited Talk, Text, Web and 411 on the entire Verizon network. It was a good choice until last month they suspended online shopping for all but a few promotions. While they are available at some Wal-Marts, we can't find the selection we would hope for. What's a big talker to do now?

As much as it hurts cheapskates like us, we feel going up the to $50 level for Unlimited (almost)everything from Boost Mobile is a good choice. And, surprisingly, we also like the service that uses the Nextel network better than the Sprint network. They also have good customer service, and phones are available online.

If they serve your market, Cricket has improved their network, their roaming and their offers with the price of their Talk, Text, Web, 411 and more, at only $40. And Cricket's customer service is reachable. At least their phone rings. Sadly, the quality of all the choices seems to be changing weekly.

Cricket & Boost as top recommendations? Whoda thunkit! Then there's the rest of us who just don't talk/text/surf that much. Happiness is the status quo.