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.