Rural Carrier Trade-offs: Great Coverage or Great Devices?
Rural wireless operators continue to face a number of challenges in their daily quest to remain viable options for consumers increasingly bombarded with advertising and promotions from nationwide operators AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile. These operators that spend billions of dollars on marketing each year and in the case of the nation’s two largest operators are increasingly dominating the market.
There are approximately 160+ rural carriers who are constantly trying differentiate their local coverage and better customer service against the larger carriers. However, these carriers are at a huge disadvantage not having access to the hotest devices like Apple's iPhone and iPad, which often results with customs not staying with the local carrier and get inferior coverage. Most customers choose a wireless service that provides good local service, but if a rural carrier doesn't have the latest hardware device offerings it’s hard to compete. Many people are willing to stay with local smaller companies even if they are not using brand name handsets.
Rural carriers have been battling handset exclusivity issues for many years and try to offer compelling alternative devices to remain competitive. Some smaller carriers have had luck negotiating access with large hardware manufacturers, but there is more needed to be done.
90% of all new postpaid customer growth in 2009, or roughly 9 million customers, were signed up by either Verizon Wireless or AT&T Mobility. And that even the smallest of the nationwide operators, T-Mobile USA Inc., was more than five times larger than the largest rural provider – U.S. Cellular Corp.
Rural Wireless Customers Have Fewer Choices