Got Cellphone Service With Unicel? Welcome To Verizon Wireless

If you’ve got a cellphone with Rural Wireless (also known as Unicel) your contract has just been purchased by Verizon Wireless.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Rural Cellular, based in Alexandria, Minn., has 716,000 subscribers. Some of them use phones with the same technology that Verizon Wireless uses, called CDMA, while others use GSM phones compatible with AT&T’s and T-Mobile USA’s networks.

Verizon Wireless said it plans to convert the GSM subscribers to CDMA service, but will maintain the GSM network for roaming by subscribers of other carriers.

Welcome to Verizon, kids. You’ll be taking up space recently vacated by a bunch of losers who didn’t pay their wireless bills, also known as Amp’d Mobile.

You can send your brand new Verizon wireless complaints to tips [at] consumerist [dot] com.

Verizon Earnings Up 4.5 Pct [Houston Chronicle]


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Great. I live in Vermont, and my two choices for a cell phone company are now Verizon or Verizon.

  2. vr4z06gt says:

    thats funny im still roaming on unicells towers…I have t-mobile. Wonder how long that will last, at that point no more cell phone coverage……

  3. SBR249 says:

    Unicel – the way wireless should be…with Verizon! Enjoy!

  4. bohemian says:

    We had Unicel for a while. Verizon did you a favor. Unicel was the money sucking carrier from hell.

    They told us we had unlimited local calling in our city. Wrong. They had the phones set up so if some other carriers tower was stronger you jumped on that instead of the Unicel tower without knowing it. You then racked up minutes and roaming fees in the middle of town without knowing you were doing so. They also randomly too the local phone prefixes and considered some but not others “local”. Even though all were local prefixes. There was no rhyme or reason to how they did this. The only way to know was to carry a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with all the local vs. non-local, local phone numbers. This also applied to people calling you. Someone calling you from a number not on their list now racked up minutes and other fees.

    We finally brought this up to our state PUC who found it as questionable as we did. They required Unicel to refund all the fees they charged and let us out of the contract.

    If you had Unicel consider yourself liberated. Verizon has it’s faults but it is a much lesser evil.

  5. mroach says:

    So next time I drive to Canada through Vermont, my GSM phone is going to say Verizon? That would be pretty weird and I’d probably puke in my throat a bit.

    I imagine eventually Verizon will just sell the GSM network to AT&T when it inevitably needs maintenance or upgrading.

  6. gamble says:

    Welcome, Unicel users. Enjoy your stay!! In HELL!!

  7. Shadowfire says:

    Alright, as a 3+ year subscriber to Unicel, first I must say “wow, lame.”

    That said, how exactly does Verizon plan to make subscribers change to CDMA? I mean, we all have GSM phones… it’s not like they can force me to buy or use a new phone.

    At the least, I guess that means my contract is void, huh?

  8. mikecolione says:

    @shadowfire –
    You should be able to use your phone as long as you have it, but if you try to upgrade you will at that point have only one option, cdma or nothing… Now you could always buy phones unlocked and keep going like that ;)

  9. bombledmonk says:

    I am a Unicel subscriber from MN. In ND, MN, and SD Unicel subscribers use CDMA phones, but that still doesn’t guarantee that Verizon will let my phone work with their network. We all know how accommodating Verizon is.

    Really though the only thing I’m worried about is the fact that I have a regional 800 number that is used for business. The original reason why I went with Unicel was that feature because none of the other carriers (verizon, altel) in my area offer it. Disappointing but I guess that’s how business works.

  10. BugMeNot2 says:

    As a Maine Unicel customer with a nationwide plan, I screamed obscenities when I heard the news on the radio last night. Sorry this got so long, but it’s what I plan to send to the company and the PUC:

    – Unicel’s a GSM provider. GSM is the global standard used by 200+ countries. Verizon is a CDMA provider. CDMA is a minority technology only available in 20+ countries. International travel will mean renting/buying a local phone.

    – Unicel is one of only two providers in this market to offer free incoming calls and text messages (CDMA network US Cellular being the other). I don’t believe in paying for someone else to contact *me*.

    – Unicel offers service without a contract. This is a pro-consumer stance shared by few other providers (Verizon, of course, not included).

    – Unicel sells unlocked phones. I can take my phone to any other GSM provider or eBay it to someone on a different network when I get sick of it. I can take it to Italy, buy a prepaid SIM, and use it there for cheap. Nevermind that Verizon’s phones would be incompatible overseas, T-Mobile and AT&T won’t sell you a phone that works with other companies, even paying full retail.

    – Verizon is notorious for crippling the phones they sell, stripping manufacturer-included features away or replacing them with branded, fee-based services. Try googling “verizon v710” for an example.

    – Unicel charges $0.01/KB of data transfer and offers plans starting at $2/month for 2MB (which was free on my plan). Great for email and WAP. I haven’t yet found another provider that can match that add-on.

    – Unicel’s basic texting plan is $7 for 300 messages sent. Verizon’s is $10 for 500, but received messages take from the pool. Unicel’s regular text message rate ($0.10/send) is also cheaper than any other provider here ($0.10/send vs. $0.15-0.20 per text sent/received for others).

    – Unicel sends me a detailed bill with every call/message/kilobyte listed with convenient dates and totals. Verizon hits you with an extra $2 per month for this service.

    – Verizon’s online store lets me select a plan similar to the one I have with Unicel. The resulting 2-year contract without free incoming calls, without free incoming texts, without night & weekend rollback to 6PM, would cost nearly double my current monthly rate (Verizon only appears to allow data access under their “smart phone” plans).

    I wouldn’t call myself a Unicel cheerleader, but other companies just seem so backwards and restrictive. I’ll be leaving when they make the switch to Verizon.

  11. skuld_wow says:

    @Bohemian –
    Some of your comments don’t make sense. If you know about the CTIA Consumer Code, they have to tell you about how your plan works. When I got my plan they told me only on unicel towers. I thought ok. In Vermont my phone showed Unicel. I had unlimited calling, I did however use my phone when it was on unicel plus (their label on the phone that shows roaming). I had some roaming charges, only reason why I used it was due to an accident, otherwise I never got roaming charges.
    As for your comment about dialing. I have never had an issue, if anything I was charged for long distance outside of my calling area.
    I have switched plans to their new unlimited plan that include ld and stops roaming. Its much better than before.
    Just remember that the CTIA has guidelines that we are protected by.