Hassle free wireless
Jan 9, 2003 (Updated Feb 20, 2003)
Review by cdlabs
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Most people today probably rank cellular phone companies with about the same regard as used car salesmen, if not far, far worse. I mean, why does wireless have to be so complicated? One day, I wish I can buy a phone, pay $40.00 a month, and jabber all I want anywhere in the country.
Recommend this product?
That's not happening anytime soon, if ever.
But we're making progress. First, because we know Cellular phone companies keep changing their names, for your future reference, here is the evolution of Cellular phone companies in Cincinnati ( a bit different from other places I hear) from when I first got my cell phone. The name in bold is currently what they are today.
Cellular One -> Airtouch Cellular -> Verizon Wireless
Ameritech Cellular -> Cingular Wireless
GTE - > VoiceStream - > T-Mobile
Cincinnati Bell Wireless
My first contract was with Cellular One (who became Airtouch, which is now Verizon.) Criminals is an understatement. They took advantage of their contract, and charged a cancellation fee! Ok, $50.00 ? No... try $200.00 . Needless to say, I didn't pay it, and ended up not having to, thanks to the fact they renewed my contract without permission.
Cellular One was a horrid experience. It was Analog, expensive, the phone (made by N.E.C.) was clunky, dull, unreliable, and all around a piece of crap.
After 3 years of horrendous service, I began traveling, and needed a Cell phone (that worked) desperately. Cellular One had changed their name to Airtouch Cellular here.... different name, same crappy service.
Coming from that, I developed a case of "contract fright." Also, Cincinnati Bell Wireless opened a store nearby here, and in nice big letters it read "No Contracts... Ever!"
Besides, these were the people who provided my internet access, Zoomtown (which is top notch), and so I basically went with them.
No free phones? Not a problem. My first phone was a Nokia 6162. HOLY COW! What a terrific phone! It was nice and compact (well, at the time, I guess it sorta still is today) , it looked great, and even had games! My calls were crystal clear, never dropped, and the phone was reliable! I never originally thought much of Nokia phones (although I remember seeing one that had fake-wood trim) , but holy cow, they've got this cell phone thing down!
Well, time moves on, and after 4 years of problem-free service, I decided to get a new phone, this time, the Nokia 3360. Once again, another stellar Nokia phone. Cincinnati Bell wireless has since added the capabilities of text messaging, their own little downloadable ringtone site, and whatnot. But nothing fancy. You won't find any Handspring Treo's, or picture phones for a looonnnng time.
But as a mobile phone service, it's hard to beat, especially if you hate contracts.
I have yet to have a dropped call. Now, I do not talk on cell phones while driving (anyone who does should be shot) , and I don't seem to have a problem with coverage (although sometimes if I've just turned on the phone, it says "Roam" at first in some spots in the north side, but in about 3 seconds it switches back to "Home." Call quality is excellent, crisp, and clear.
Text Messaging - Free to receive, $5.00 a month gives you 500 to send! This is the way to do it! Nothing is quite as handy as getting the weather forecast, news headlines, and reminders & short emails from friends on your phone.
Picture Messaging - Some Nokia phones (the 3360) allow you to send little images (they're kind of like Black & White icons) with your messages. Despite claims Cincinnati Bell (and even the Nokia 3360) don't support this, they do.
Help & Support - Is easy and simple. Simply drive to the nearest CBW store, and there's usually always someone there to help. Although one of the people there reminds me in a way of "Nick Burns, your company's computer guy," they're always quick at solving problems (my only one has had to do with the voice mail.)
Pricing - Is reasonable. I get 1500 minutes a month (500 anytime, 1000 night & weekend.) $30.00 a month isn't bad at all I think.
The phones - They carry Nokia Phones, as well as Panasonic, Sony-Ericsson, and Motorola. It seems these days that hardly anyone carries Nokia Phones. But they do. They are not exactly cutting edge phones, but they are nice, modern phones. If you're a gadget freak and must have a phone like the Nokia 3650 (which isn't even for sale yet,) this probably isn't the service you'll find it with.
Web Browsing - The phone is capable of it, the service isn't, at least WAP browsing. I can't say I miss it (there are services that allow you to do similar text sites with SMS.)
Overall - A good, hassle-free wireless phone service. It's priced midpack, but you have no contracts (helpful if your needs change!), and excellent service and reliability. My cell phone isn't a headache (like it was with Cellular One) , it's a stress reliever. Everyone I know who has CBW is pleased with their service. So there you go.
- + - + UPDATE + - + -
Some recent issues have been brought up since I last published his review. So here you go...
1) They do round up the nearest minute: Although I have yet to go over my rate plan, it is important to know that CBW is one of the companies that rounds up to the nearest minute on their calls.
On my phone, there is a timer called a "Life Timer," which will give you a generous estimation of the time you've used your phone (in its life span.) It's a good reference point.
2) Clarity - I got to switch phones for a day with someone who owned a Sprint-PCS phone (the $149.00 Sanyo.) The clarity and reception on the CBW network is far superior... that or the Nokia 3360 is simply that much clearer. Either way, the Nokia 3360 + CBW is a great match.
3) Free Incoming Text messages... Cheap to send them.
Let me make this 100% clear. Do not ever, ever, EVER go with a wireless provider that does not give you free incoming text messages. EVER. Unless you plan on having this feature entirely disabled altogether. (It's quite useful to have... more than you'd think.)
Mobile phone email addresses, (CBW's is "firstname.lastname@example.org ) are every bit as vulnerable to SPAM as a regular email address, no matter how much you safeguard them. (The good news is that I was able to resolve the problem for the most part, thus allowing my text messaging feature to once again, be useful.)
Even though it is illegal to send SPAM to cellular phones, and even though many of these sites require a "confirmation" reply email, you still have to pay for that initial email they sent to your phone in the first place.
It also makes it very easy for an oblivious friend to run up your phone bill. Verizon and TMobile both have limits or fees on incoming text messages. BEWARE!
4) Where's my mLife
CBW is keeping AT&T out of Cincy for one reason or another. I don't care, but would AT&T please stop advertising their "mLife" here? And why does Cincinnati Bell not get on the GSM train? I'd love an mLife. The TDMA deal works great... call it an outdated technology, it still works well... but as these awesome new phones come out on the market, CBW users won't be able to help but feel a little like last-generation's technology.
5) Honest Retailers -
The CBW stores are great. They're not used car salesmen, they give a straight answer, and they're not afraid to speak the disadvantages of a phone or plan. They also sell genuine Nokia accessories, which says more than one might think. I can't tell you how many T mobile and Verizon dealers I see selling garbage and knockoff accessories. Ask them about something and they contradict themselves it seems. (Text messaging is a biggie... some claim it's free, others, only with "certain plans.") If you like buying use cars, well, good for you. The rest of us will find CBW quite refreshing.
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Amount Paid (US$): 30
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