This weekend’s Bottom Line column:
Consumer Cellular remains relatively unknown among wireless carriers despite giving its subscribers what every AT&T or Verizon (or cable television) customer desires: a no-contract, low-cost, buy-only-what-you-need option with basic service starting at $10 a month.
Unfortunately for millions of smartphone power users, Consumer Cellular’s core demographic is seniors and its primary phones are inexpensive, and antiquated, flip styles and a no-frills, “senior friendly” devices with larger text, oversize buttons and loud ringers. (Please note that “senior,” as applied here, is the modern definition, championed by AARP, as anyone 50 or older.)
Consumer Cellular has been ranked the nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier in a Consumer Reports survey the past three years, but it couldn’t have done it without AT&T. Consumer Cellular is so small that it’s actually a wireless carrier without its own wireless network. It lives like a snail on AT&T’s whale tail as a “mobile virtual network operator” that buys and resells space on AT&T’s network.