Monday, April 30, 2012

US Cellular & Alltel Hook Up

US Cellular and Alltel have agreed to cooperate with the distribution of the "U" Prepaid service.  While this link up makes great business sense, it may also indicate the beginning of a more extensive relationship between two Top 10 wireless carriers.  Two wireless carriers with virtually no geographic overlap, compatible CDMA technology and a strong incentive to expand their operational area...what more could we ask for?

While this action should start the rumor mill, there have been a number of more serious combinations that just didn't happen: AT&T/T-Mobile, MetroPCS/Sprint, Cricket/MetroPCS.  So don't think this really needs to go farther than the "U"-turn it really is:  the evolution of what was once a very economical Prepaid wireless service.  One more, we might add, being marketed by Wal-Mart.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Too Many Carriers?

We're not saying there are too many wireless carriers in the US, we're saying there are more than we expected there would be at this time.  Several years ago we established a web page that listed all of the cellular carriers we review.  The list was a bit long but we figured it would slowly get shorter.  We were wrong. That's a good thing.

We discovered more carriers over time and, even though we lost some wireless names, we gained a few, too.  This meant that our idea of listing them all on one page just didn't work.  We recently divided the list into 5 bite-sized pieces with roughly 20 carriers per page.  This doesn't really affect the content of these pages, but they are now easier to read, and there's room to list all the carriers.  You might need to decide what letter of the alphabet you're looking for, but we've made it easy to jump from page to page, and you can still go from A to Z by clicking at the bottom of each page.

The primary benefit of working on these reports is that it keeps us up to date with these 100 or so carriers across the country.  It's how we found that Simmetry Wireless threw in the towel and that GCI Wireless in Alaska bought two of their competitors.  It would be a sad day if we eventually need fit all of the carriers on one short web page.  We're still supporting our ABC's.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Element Mobile Pays Up

We thought the bad news about Element Mobile had settled down a year ago, but it seems they angered enough customers to get the wheels of government to act.  Bad service wasn't enough, Element sent the affected customers to bill collectors and dinged everybody's credit report.  Such heavy-handed actions don't sit well with us and we think Element got off easy.

MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) - A Wisconsin Rapids cell phone provider has agreed to repay customers who complained about service coverage and early termination fees.
Element Mobile will pay $248,000 under a settlement announced Wednesday by the state consumer protection department.
“Element Mobile had a rocky start, but we hope this settlement allows the company to move forward, become a strong Wisconsin business, and provide quality services to its customers," said Sandy Chalmers, the state's trade and consumer protection division administrator.
The state recorded 671 complaints against Element Mobile in 2011. Most of the complaints came between January and March of last year after Element took over service from Verizon, which had bought Alltel Wireless but abandoned the area.
“Element Mobile regrets any problems incurred by customers during the switchover period,” said Element chief operations officer Jerry Wilke. “We worked with the state to make sure anyone deserving reimbursement receives it.”
Element will repay or waive fees for customers who paid an early termination fee or who experienced service outages or interruptions. Element has also agreed to stop collection efforts on unpaid customers' bills it had sent to collection agencies. The company will also contact the nation's three credit reporting bureaus to have any negative credit information removed from customers' credit reports.
The state will contact affected customers within a few weeks with questionnaires to figure out how much they may be owed. Within four months of submitting the questionnaire, eligible consumers will receive releases from Element Mobile. These releases must be returned within 30 days in order to receive the adjustment.
Wilke says Element has since invested in new towers and equipment to improve coverage and signal quality and created a customer service management system to ensure higher service quality.

Source: WSAU Radio

Monday, April 16, 2012

Simmetry Wireless Goes Away

Simmetry Wireless in western Illinois has decided to give up the wireless business. Symmetry is part of the Adams Telephone Co-op of Golden, IL and they have decided to sell most of their network assets to US Cellular. However, since Simmetry GSM phones won't work on the CDMA US Cellular network, customers will not transfer over, their phone will just stop working on June 30, 2012.

With US Cellular hopefully taking over most Simmetry sites, switching (and porting) to US Cellular will probably give you the most familiar coverage. Simmetry was well-priced for local customers but was overpriced for those who wandered farther from home. Symmetry claims their customers will receive a beneficial offer from US Cellular, one of our top-rated carriers.

Sadly, this is part of a trend in the wireless division of an increasing number of local telephone co-ops. The wireless operation becomes too expensive to run, the co-op is too small to absorb these losses, and there are too few customers to transfer over to another carrier. We saw this one coming and there are others right behind them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

iPhone Comings & Goings

AT&T will now allow their customers to "unlock" their iPhones (as they do with other models) after you have competed your 2-year obligation. You can Go to another wireless supplier, possibly staying on the AT&T network!

Coming #1:
With your newly unlocked AT&T iPhone, NET10 Wireless and StraightTalk invite you to get one of their nifty GSM SIM's to take advantage of their all-you-can-eat Talk, Text, and yes, Data plans, without a contract, and in some cases, on the same AT&T network.

Coming #2:
T-Mobile says 'Come On Over,' they're ready, willing and able to welcome all those AT&T customers bringing over their iPhone to take advantage of their more consumer-friendly plans, and possibly less-congested network.

Coming #3:
The iPhone is Coming to the networks of some smaller carriers: GCI Wireless in Alaska, Cellcom in Wisconsin and C Spire Wireless of Alabama and the South. In most cases it will be offered at a reasonable price.

Coming #4:
Straight Talk is expanding the Unlimited universe with their newest plan that includes Unlimited Talk, Text and Data to all of the US and now Mexico. You can buy a new StraightTalk phone or Come over with your AT&T iPhone, or any other unlocked GSM phone.

Right when we thought the Unlimited plans were going away, out Comes more. Let's Go...iPhone or no.