Pros: inexpensive and overall reliable
Cons: service dropoffs in remote areas, CS is not what I would prefer.
Powertel operations became T-Mobile and service remained about the same. Coverage area has not really changed. The Atlanta area receives a strong signal all across the metro area.
On extended drives, as long as you are near major roadways, reception is fine. HOWEVER, when travelling in North Georgia, prepare for vast areas of "no service". Above Gainesville(going northeast), I found service to be poor or non-existant.
The main freeway arteries throughout Georgia receive an overall reliable connection. It's the state highways that present a problem. Many small towns do not receive a signal from T-mobile(what used to be Powertel).
As for plans, I'd suggest going the T-mobile prepay route. You can buy a $100 card and receive well over 10 hours of time ...that do not expire and you do not have to "top off" the account for a full year(unless you run out of minutes early). For light usage, that means you can have a full function cell service for under $8.50 a month! I top mine off under that deal about every 7 months and use the phone quite frequently.
Replacement phones and upgrades are easy. Just remove the small SIM card from your old compatible phone and put it in a new one. The SIM card is held behind the battery and looks like a miniature credit card. A few years ago, I dropped my phone in water..which fried it instantly. A quick stop at a local Target store allowed me to buy another phone and switch out the card in the parking lot ...and be on my way.
Great local Atlanta plan which also has nationwide minutes as well. I've used it in California, Florida, and New Mexico with no problem(as long as the location was within a reasonable distance of major roadways.
Customer Service has been OK. A few years ago, another phone needed to be replaced when I was on a monthly "plan". CS was a bit slow and unresponsive and the problem took MANY phone calls and heated discussions with various departments. The problem was eventually solved by finding a store manager in another city who saw the value in actually providing "customer service".