I'm in Stonington, Maine, where we don't have any "real" cell phone coverage.
In 1994, I checked with Verizon and a few other companies, but they didn't have any signal here then.
I bought some of those prepaid calling cards so I could use them in emergencies, but every time I needed to use them, it seems like they had expired.
My son was a manager of a T-Mobile corporate store in Rochester, NY, and he suggested that I get a ToGo phone, because as long as you make sure you add to your account, you have roll-over minutes, and I would always be able to use the phone when I was away from home.
I got a Nokia 6010 when I was out in Rochester in 1996, and found out that my phone worked from home on AT&T. Then they increased roaming on the ToGo phones, and it worked on Unicel from where I had my small gift shop in the summer time.
In 1997, I got the Dash and a My Faves plan, and really enjoyed it. I had already spent over $100 on my ToGo account, and gave the phone to my mother so she would have it when she was on the road. I just have to remember to add $10 every year. (She doesn't ever use it, but at least she has it in case she needs it). The Dash was great from home, because at that time, there were no roaming limitations, and also, I could tether my laptop when away from home, and get on the internet when I needed to.
When my contract came up again, I got the G1, and I love that phone! I was quite bummed out when I found out you couldn't use WiFi for phone calls on it though. (I had even bought a router for that purpose). By that time, T-Mo had roaming limitations, and I needed to figure out what to do about using my phone from home.
I had no idea what UMA was, and had just assumed that if the phone worked on WiFi, that you could make calls on it. After all, this was the latest and greatest! Anyway, I did a bunch of research, then called T-Mo and tried to find out what my options were for UMA calling. It was either buying a UMA phone, (within a few months of buying my G1), adding on the 9.99 hotspot plan and switching out my SIM card whenever I wanted to make a phone call, or getting a family plan for more money and a new phone for free, and not having to swap out the sim all the time. (The other @Home plan wouldn't work for me because the power is off so often here, and I needed to keep my landline for that reason).
I got the family plan and a Samsung T339. The phone works great on UMA, but what a pain to send Texts! I used to send a bunch of them with the G1 and the Dash, but with this Samsung, texting really stinks! Now I only send my kid short texts unless I am off the island and can use my G1.
I spend a lot of time at my Mom's in Massachusettes, and out in Rochester, NY with my son and his family, and T-Mo works great in both places. We also think that in a few years, we may move out to the Rochester area, so I don't want to switch carriers. (It's really nice to have my own phone support guy right in the family)! Also, even though I don't have an unlimited plan, most of my calls are to my son and daughter-in-law's T-Mo cell phones, so it is like having unlimited, since those are where I make the most calls. I never even come close to the 700 minutes on my plan.
Anyway, I am really happy with T-Mo, but I wish they had bought Unicel! I remember a few years ago, when they built a big building on the corner of Main and High streets in Ellsworth, and put up a tower behind Pat's Pizza, and put a big call center in Limestone. I was excited because I thought they were moving into Maine in a big way. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My son is my T-Mobile man!