Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cell Phones in Grant County

As most people here know we have cell service in Prairie City.  This is Unicel service.  At the time this was being installed Unicel was being purchased by Verizon Wireless.  Unicel is really Rural Cellular Corporation (RCC).  RCC has towers all over the country.  Now the big difference for the local user is that Unicel and Verizon use totally different radios in there phones.  

Unicell uses the GSM network which is compatible with ATT and T-Mobile.

Verizon Wireless uses CDMA which is compatible with Sprint, Alltell and our local US Cellular.   So when and if Verizon finally gets ownership of Unicel they will start to convert users to their network, which means you will need a totally new phone.  Also the CDMA coverage in Eastern Oregon is not as good as the GSM network.  So Verizon will have to add radios to achieve the same coverage as exists with GSM.  This could take some time.

One big impediment to the deal has been Vermont.  Vermont thinks the deal is not in their interest and their Senator has been putting some pressure on the FCC who has yet to approve the deal.  If the deal fails it will put a lot of pressure on RCC/Unicel who would have to pay a penalty to Verizon.

Another thing that has changed recently is that T-Mobile pay as you go now works in our area.  So if your contract is up with Unicel and you are waiting to see what happens with the Verizon deal you can probably use T-Mobile and buy minutes from them.  You cannot get a 620 prefix with them so anyone who called you would be calling long distance.  A interesting spin on this is that T-Mobile offers pay as you go unlimited data plans for $1.00 dollar a day.  So you could connect to the Internet via certain cell phones for less than what is the going price locally for internet service.