Still unclear is the fate of the GSM cells, however. I currently enjoy full signal at my house, even in the dark crevices in the basement thanks to a GSM cell located only a mile away. Verizon phones don't work here. If Verizon actually turns off that GSM cell, no phones will work here. AT&T claims to have full coverage, and even some 3G in the area, but I'll believe it when I see it.
I called Unicel back to inquire about the fate of another line on my plan that is under contract (not month-to-month) and due to expire in July. I told them that I was fabulously uninterested in paying a $200 early termination fee since I wasn't technically leaving them, they were leaving me. Their answer was that the fee could be waived, but not if I wanted to keep the number. If I simply cancelled the other line, I could leave without an issue. If I tried to port my number to another carrier, I'd be hit with the full fee. Somehow, that doesn't seem right. I thought that number portability was basically mandatory now.
But you pick your battles. I'm apparently heading to AT&T and an "official" iPhone in the near future, bidding Unicel/Verizon good-bye. But beyond all the hassle, I'm genuinely puzzled as to why Verizon is handling this acquisition this way. It would seem to me that the best idea would be to keep all the GSM cells active and let the GSM customers use their existing phones. If Verizon is transitioning to a GSM-based network anyway, this would seem to fit the grand plan, would it not? But no, it's living down to its reputation and reducing service in this area for no apparent reason.
...and people wonder why the United States lags behind the rest of the world in wireless technology and services.