Some things to keep in mind when considering signing up for Sprint PCS service:

  • Many people seem to agree that the voice quality is low. It does often sound "more compressed" than other digital cellular services.
  • CDMA is not CDPD or GPRS: Sprint's Wireless Web is barely more sophisticated than a dumb terminal hooked up to a modem. While browsing, you are using up minutes whether you are sending or recieveing data or not. In a similar vein, their laptop connection kits are outrageously expensive.
  • Roaming in non-digital service areas is quite expensive. This might be why their phones are so reluctant to roam even when the digital signal is very weak.
  • Their phone software usually makes it difficult to manually switch service types. When your call is repeatedly disconnected because of a weak digital signal, this is frustrating.
  • Their charges are high for average users -- their plans tend to be focused on people who make lots of long-distance calls, for whom 10¢ minutes are fairly reasonable. (This is early 2001 data.)
  • Their customer support is awful. Not their representatives, mind you, who are usually polite and reasonably intelligent. But the oppressive corporate policies with which they swindle you are awful. If you are cancelling an account, cancel it. If you lost your phone, cancel your account. Do not agree to take a credit towards a new phone. Do not let them keep the account open for any reason. Unless you make them cancel, they will charge you for service to a nonexistent phone, and it will be your word against what is on their screen. Trust me, they have no sense of corporate morality whatsoever. *
  • Three years after I originally wrote this writeup, Sprint is still stuck on CDMA, their phone selection is mediocre (they only offer one Bluetooth-enabled handset), but their voice quality has apparently improved dramatically. They are still charging (almost) 10¢ minutes on their "fair and flexible" plan, but said plan does let you avoid overage charges.

* after perhaps a year of back-and-forth with Sprint, they finally gave us our money back ... so they're not all bad.