By Joe Paonessa Mar 10, 2015
After contacting Consumer Cellular, Prepaid Phone News is reporting that the company is now selling sim cards and service that operate on T-Mobile's network. Consumer Cellular up until now, has always been solely an AT&T MVNO. Generally I applaud MVNOs when they expand and offer service from multiple networks, however, what's going on here could quickly become agitating to the end user.
At the moment, Consumer Cellular makes no mention on their website anywhere that they are now providing coverage through T-Mobile. In fact if you check out their coverage map, they only show one and it mirrors AT&Ts. Furthermore, their pricing as is can be considered rather expensive for a T-Mobile based MVNO. I expect the company to quickly start accumulating a lot of complaints unless they update their website. I can't see customers being happy thinking they are signing up for AT&T based service only to find out after the fact they ended up with something else.
Supposedly Consumer Cellular is sending out T-Mobile based sims based on where you live and if that network provides stronger coverage in your area than AT&T's. This strategy seems rather unwarranted to me because there are very few places if any where T-Mobile has coverage and AT&T doesn't. In fact, even if T-Mobile does have better coverage in a particular area, you still may end up losing your signal within certain structures and buildings due to the cellular frequencies T-Mobile operates on, whereas with AT&T you are far less likely to experience this.
Consumer Cellular has long been a reliable and reputable company operating since 1995. However, if they don't become more transparent with what they are doing here, they could quickly damage their reputation. Unfortunately, this sort of "bait and switch" if you will, can give MVNOs and prepaid providers in general a bad name. Hopefully they rectify this situation soon before a floodgate of complaints opens up and their reputation does in fact get damaged. For the time being I will not be updating the MVNO database pages to reflect Consumer Cellular's new service options until they make the changes official on their website and hopefully start giving potential customers a choice of networks to choose from.