The Cell Phone Quandary

In my years as a cell phone customer, I have used Lynx (owned by local phone company SNET before they were bought by SBC, and before Cingular), BellAtlantic (pre-Verizon), AT&T and now Cingular.

They all have their strengths and weaknesses (except AT&T, which in my opinion only had weaknesses). Unfortunately, none of them provides a signal here, where I live. After last month’s landline phone outage (four days without 911, among other things), cell service here seemed like a necessity.

It’s a suburban neighborhood with a rural feel. There’s plenty of population density with spendable income. There’s certainly a place to put towers (the company I work for has a site on a hilltop, with a TV antenna already there).

As far as I know, there are only two companies with a signal that covers my house, Sprint and T-Mobile. I know T-Mobile’s coverage through the rest of this area is awful, so they’re out.

Today, I borrowed a phone from Sprint. They lent me a high end Samsung with color web browser and camera. As far as I can see, having the web browser is close to worthless. The camera might have some application, but it’s pretty rudimentary with 640×480 resolution.

Here’s the real breakthrough. For the first time ever, I made a cell call from home while walking around! Signal strength was 1-3 bars and the call quality was fine. Using the phone while driving my normal route produced a workable signal everywhere except the final 3/4 mile hill to my house… and then it came back.

I’d sign with Sprint in a second, except, they have the world’s worst reputation for customer service. There was a time when they attempted to charge their customers to call and speak to them!

In order to get what I want, I’ll probably have to sign a two year deal. I’m scared to do it if they’re the devil.

Meanwhile, with cellular number portability about a month away, I will hang tight and wait for what I consider an inevitable price war. My contract with Cingular is up October 26th and for the first time in my cellular career, I’ll be in the drivers seat.

4 thoughts on “The Cell Phone Quandary”

  1. My advice is to stay away from Sprint. The customer service continues to be horrid. If you ever do have problems with the service, getting resolution is impossible; I tried after 3 months of having poor service since my move into Hartford, and their advice was to “cancel and pay the penalty fee – we don’t guarantee service everywhere”. $250 penalty fee later, I cannot recommend them to anyone.

    I signed with Verizon and have had much better luck with them now than I did when it was BAM.

  2. I don’t disagree. However, I wonder if this is not the case with any cell provider when you move to an area without good service.

    Does your experience reflect what any carrier would do, or is Sprint alone on this?

    Geoff Fox

  3. I’ve had Verizon for a little over a year now, and it’s worked phenomenally. I live in Bethany, almost at the Hamden line, and barely get a signal at my house, but with a simple $15 external antenna, I’m good to go. I’ve never not had a signal in Hamden, New Haven, and most of Woodbridge, and their coverage is just as good out of state, in MA, FL, and NH.

    As far as I see it, there are two slight problems with Verizon. First off, they are usually a bit more expensive than their competitors, but you do get what you pay for. Secondly, their customer service is excellent… unless you have a billing issue. It was fine until we switched plans, and it went down hill from there. Granted, after quite a few phone calls and e-mails, the problems were finally sorted out. Other than that though, I’d have to recommend that you check them out — remember, you do have a 15 day period to return the phones/service.

  4. Living in New Haven, CT and Hamden, CT mobile phone service has been quite a challenge. Some people blame it on the West and East Rock flanking the city. I am worried that they may just have one cell phone tower in the whole area (but I have no prove for that). I came to New Haven with T-mobile. Now, I used to love T-mobile when I was in the Baltimore/DC area but that quickly changed when I came to New Haven. I could not maintain a single call for more then a few minutes before getting cut off. So I switched back to Sprint and into 2 year contract. It was ok for a few days but once I started using their high end Samsung (I usually have good luck with those) on a daily basis the shortcomings became more and more obvious. First, it is not guaranteed that I can maintain a connection (though it is better the T-mobile), second there are many “blind-spots” for Sprint service in and around New Haven, CT and Hamden, CT and third their Text messaging service is aggravating — you will have to connect to the internet b/f being able to send a text message … and that’s a tedious process and often does not happen at all. So be warned of Sprint and T-mobile — So here is my question — there seem to be a few people in this area who can use their cell phone in buildings, elevators and basements around this place — I have yet to find out what their carrier is … Nextel maybe? If someone has a water-tight cell-phone plan/cell phone coverage in the New Haven, CT and Hamden, CT area please let me know. Best of luck to you!

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