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Cell Service or Lack Thereof at Norwich U, Northfield, VT

Discussion in 'Northeastern US Wireless Forum' started by MommaMA, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. MommaMA

    MommaMA New Member

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    Dear Cell Techies in VT -

    This is also a quietly frustrated request to Vermontcellboy...if you are still around.

    I could really use your help in determining what wireless service I should buy for my son who attends college at Norwich U, Northfield, VT. Northfield is in north central VT about 5 miles down a really big hill (route 12 exit) off Route 89. It's about 20 minutes south of Barre/Montpelier area. The exit off of route 89 is route 64 to route 12, and is so steep downhill that just before the intersection is a big, honking truck runaway lane back up another hill, just in case!

    Cell coverage for Verizon is abysmal there or as my son says "it sucks big time!", as the nearest CDMA/TDMA towers are several miles away nearer route 89. The local cell provider RCC/Unicel has GSM towers with analog hosting (I think). After two years of my son complaining, I tried to solve the problem by buying a ATT GO! phone (pre-paid phone card with cell phone), as I didn't want to change the whole family over to Unicel when the rest of us live in the Boston, MA suburbs. My sons classmates mentioned that AT&T service and Cingular service were pretty good in the area, but they had monthly paid phones. Of course, now they are the same company. T-Mobile was mentioned as pretty good, too. But I wanted to save money, as we're paying the big college bucks right now, so I chose the AT&T GO! phone, a Samsung model with GSM SIM card.

    I'm sad to report that the GO! phone experiment was a bust. Though the phone worked in the Radio Shack store in MA after activation, it did NOT work at Norwich. What I found was just criminal. Get this, because Unicel and AT&T only have roaming agreements regarding monthly paid phones, and not pre-paid phones, only emergency service is allowed in the roaming area for pre-paid plan cell phones. I couldn't even dial 611 and finally had to call on a dorm landline to the GO! phone support center to get the bad news. Amazingly, the support person apologized profusely and recommended returning the phone for a refund.

    The Verizon cell phone has at best 1-2 /5 bars signal on campus, and that's if you're leaning out the 5th floor window of one of the dorms on the upper parade ground. Try doing this when it's minus 10 degrees F in winter.

    I'm returning the GO! phone tomorrow, but I wonder what other options for service I have without having to get a Unicel phone, which won't help us outside of VT? I'm also quite confused about the recent purchase of RCC/Unicel by Verizon. Supposedly, the RCC towers with GSM will be maintained, but there will be no new towers. Rather I hear that Verizon will add TDMA capability to certain towers as needed? Is that what's going to happen? Then I'm also hearing that recently the Federal DOJ required Verizon to sell/divest some these towers as part of a reduction of a potential monopoly situation in VT, and that AT&T is purchasing some of them. Which ones and where?

    Should I find a cell carrier with a dual GSM/TDMA phone? And who are they and what phones?

    Or do I wait it out with Verizon to get their TDMA equipment on the old RCC towers or do I splurge and convert the entire family to AT&T and pray that there will be enough GSM towers left after Verizon does it's conversion?

    I'm thrashing right now...help please!

    Momma in MA
     
  2. mframe

    mframe Senior Member
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    My Phone:
    Pixel 3aXL, Moto G7 Power
    Wireless Provider(s):
    TracFone, PagePlus, TMO, Xfinity, H2O
    I think those GSM towers will eventually be taken over by AT&T, but the deal is too new for the transaction to be finalized, just yet. Meanwhile, T-Mobile ToGo (prepaid) will roam on Unicel at no extra charge. If you go to the T-Mobile website and look up the prepaid phones, the Moto V195 and $25 refill card bundle for $30 is an excellent deal.
     
  3. Bill Clinton

    Bill Clinton 10 years scandal free....
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    Location:
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    My Phone:
    HTC Mogul
    Wireless Provider(s):
    Sprint, Unicel
    Yay a thread that relates to my state! I'm taking this before anyone else does.

    First off Unicel AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM providers, Verizon uses CDMA. The two are not compatible. AMPS and TDMA are legacy networks, they have been overlayed with the new technology, and they will be shut down soon and in places they are already off. Do not worry about AMPS and TDMA.

    Here is my understanding of what is happening in Vermont as a result of the Verizon buyout of RCC the parent of Unicel:

    -Verizon bought the company which provides service to various parts of the country.
    In Vermont Verizon already has spectrum that overlaps with the Unicel spectrum they are acquiring in the deal. They aren't allowed to keep the overlapping licenses. This needs to be divested. AT&T is the likely recipient.

    -Unicel is the ONLY GSM provider in Vermont so AT&T and T-Mobile coverage is roaming only.
    You can hope that Verizon will put their equipment on the Unicel tower that they bought in the deal, but by the time that happens your son will probably have graduated.

    -AT&T isn't expected to take over for a while still, so at the moment Unicel is still selling and providing service for their network.


    Unicel has the best coverage in Vermont and they offer prepaid plans. Unicel also has a cheap $20.00 month plan with 200 minutes with nothing else. You can add voicemail and other features for another few dollars.

    T-Mobile prepaid didn't used to roam but perhaps they do now, I don't know because they have no native coverage in Vermont and therefore they don't sell service of any kind.
    I'm sure a T-Mobile prepaid user can clear that up easily.


    My recommendation: Your son is in college so maybe it's time he takes responsibility for his own phone.... You could drop him from the family plan and let him sign up for AT&T. He can have the strong national network from AT&T, and he can roam on Unicel. Excessive roaming might get him a warning from AT&T but that is rare and they are probably taking over the Unicel network anyway. But, you don't care about that because it's not your problem anymore since he has his own plan!
     
  4. Bill Clinton

    Bill Clinton 10 years scandal free....
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    Sorry about the long post but hopefully you find it informative and helpful. I wish I had some pictures to make it more exciting. :cool:
     
  5. macsesso

    macsesso Senior Member
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    My Phone:
    Blackberry Storm 9550
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  6. jcmagna

    jcmagna New Member

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    Unicel has a tower on campus, you want service, buy unicel.
     
  7. dmarkson

    dmarkson New England Wireless Guru
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    Location:
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    9530, v3xx
    Wireless Provider(s):
    VZW, AT&T, TMO, USC, BOOST, VIRG, PP
    Vermontcellboy is still around, I'll see if I can't get him over here.

    It seems clear that Unicel is the only one with the decent signal at school. So the following options are available:

    1. T-Mo2Go Prepaid with a non-local number (roam at no extra charge on Unicel)

    2. Tracfone GSM Prepaid with a non-local number (roam at no extra charge on Unicel)

    3. AT&T Postpay service with a non-local number - will be roaming full-time on Unicel. As Bill said, they probably will not boot him for excessive roaming since they will likely be taking over the network in the next 3-6 months

    4. T-Mobile Postpay service with a non-local number - will be roaming full-time on Unicel. Might get booted for excessive roaming, its just a chance you might have to take

    5. Unicel Postpay service. Will get a local number. No benefit of family plans tho.

    6. Unicel prepay - not a great deal, not recommenced

    Verizon is not going to be an option for you unless they build a tower closer to the school. That also rules out Sprint.

    With AT&T likely taking over Unicel in VT, eventually GoPhone will work on the Unicel network. Maybe for next year!

    My suggestion is this. He gets Verizon for free now. If he wants something else let him pay the difference between your add-on family line and whatever it is that he wants. And don't forget you will have to pay Verizon an early termination fee for his line (I would venture a guess he has upgraded his phone in the past two years).
     
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