WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Mid-Rivers is selling our mobile wireless (cellular) network to Verizon and discontinuing our retail cellular operations.
IS MID-RIVERS SELLING OUT EVERYTHING?
NO. This change impacts only Mid-Rivers Wireless cellular phone customers. No other services that Mid-Rivers currently provides customers will be impacted. In fact, this sale will allow us to dedicate more time, labor and capital resources to extending true broadband Internet services and improved landline voice quality into rural areas further and faster.
DOES THIS IMPACT ALL MID-RIVERS CELLULAR CUSTOMERS, OR JUST CUSTOMERS IN CERTAIN AREAS?
All Mid-Rivers Wireless cellular customers are impacted, regardless of location. The entire cellular network is being sold to Verizon and Mid-Rivers is exiting the retail cellular business entirely.
HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ME?
If you are one of the approximately 1,700 remaining Mid-Rivers Wireless cellular customers, including those with “Mi-Fi” devices on a 4G LTE Mobile Data or a fixed replacement Mi-Fi Internet data plan, you will need to find a new cellular service provider by sometime in mid-to-late 2019.
HOW LONG CAN I KEEP MY MID-RIVERS CELLULAR SERVICE?
When the sale closes, which we anticipate will occur in April or May, we will be able to give you a final transition date. In the meantime, our handset selection will be minimal, but we will continue to support our customers through the transition date. As soon as that deadline date is set, direct notice will be sent to every impacted customer. You should have at least a few months between that notice and the final deadline, but we encourage you to begin shopping alternative cellular providers now, so you are ready. You have time though, so don't be pressured into switching before you are comfortable and ready to do so.
You are free to go to any provider of your choice. Verizon, AT&T, and possibly other carriers will be in the local area during the transition period to help interested customers port to their cellular service. Watch your local newspapers for information.
WILL WE LOSE CELLULAR COVERAGE IN THE REGION?
Verizon is purchasing the Mid-Rivers Wireless network assets in areas where Verizon does not currently have coverage. When the network is transitioned to Verizon, coverage on Verizon will be the same footprint provided by Mid-Rivers, plus Verizon’s nationwide coverage. Local coverage may even improve in some areas as Verizon integrates and optimizes each site into their system. Verizon has shared that they are committed to providing a good customer experience and strive to have the best network wherever they can.
DO OTHER CARRIERS HAVE A REPLACEMENT FOR MY MI-FI INTERNET DATA PLAN?
All the major wireless carriers offer Mi-Fi devices or “Jetpacks,” USB sticks, and others that serve a similar function. Since Verizon is taking over the Mid-Rivers mobile wireless network, they may be your best option for continuing data coverage until we can get to you with a fiber connection. Visit https://www.verizonwireless.com/internet-devices/ or talk with a local Verizon office location for more information. You may also want to consider Viasat satellite Internet services through Mid-Rivers by contacting us at 1-800-452-2288 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Mi-Fi data service will not be automatically transitioned, so you can choose the option that’s best for your situation.
DO I HAVE TO SWITCH TO VERIZON?
No. You have the choice to activate services with any cellular carrier. Contact information for the different providers with coverage in this region is below. Business and Government customers, including small and farm/ranch businesses (any business with a Tax ID number), please refer to this section for contacts.
Verizon - Visit the Verizon Website or a local Verizon office.
AT&T - Visit the AT&T Website
T-Mobile - Visit the T-Mobile Website or call 1-800-T-MOBILE
GreatCall (Jitterbug) - Call 1-800-918-8543 or visit the Great Call Website
Straight Talk - Available at Wal-Mart or the Straight Talk Website
Tracfone - Visit the Tracfone Website
Consumer Cellular - Call 1-888-345-5509 or visit the Consumer Cellular Website
IS VERIZON NOW ACCEPTING NEW CUSTOMERS FROM MY ZIP CODE?
Yes. All restrictions by ZIP code in the Mid-Rivers Wireless service area have been lifted and you should be able to sign up with any address either from Verizon’s website or at an area Verizon store.
WHO IS THE BEST PROVIDER TO GO TO?
This depends on your specific needs and what is most important to you. To help you get started:
Our local Mid-Rivers employees would be glad to talk through your needs with you and help you select the best option. Coverage is typically the most important factor, so make sure you select a provider who has coverage where you use your phone most.
WILL CELLULAR SERVICE COST MORE WITH ANOTHER PROVIDER?
The answer to this depends on your individual needs, the plan you have, and the provider you choose. You will need to look at the different options and choose the one that’s best for you, and we’d be glad to help you do that. Keep in mind that the other providers have nationwide networks, which can eliminate the chance of paying roaming, and offer unlimited voice and data plans, international roaming, and a much greater selection of the latest devices.
While some customers will end up paying more, the cellular rates you are paying with us were being subsidized by roaming and were not sustainable. Had we held on to the cellular network, by mid-2019, rates would have had to increase significantly to make up for losses in roaming and allow us to continue operating and upgrading the network.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO TRANSFER MY SERVICE?
The typical wireless transfer takes 3 to 24 hours but can take up to 48 hours. Actual processing time may vary depending on the provider and the complexity of the transfer request. Mid-Rivers will do everything we can on our end to push ports through as quickly as possible if you are keeping your number. It may take between 48-72 hours to receive text messages after transfer completion due to the required system updates performed by individual carriers. To ensure a smooth transition, make sure your device content is updated and backed up and you have your user name and passwords for your phone and any apps. Bringing a copy of your Mid-Rivers cellular bill can also help speed up the transition process.
CAN I KEEP MY CELL PHONE NUMBER?
In most cases, YES. Porting (transferring your phone number from Mid-Rivers to another cellular provider) is now available to Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and other providers from most Mid-Rivers service areas, including areas where porting was previously unavailable. If keeping your number is important to you, make sure to ask about it with the providers you are considering. If you want to take your number with you, don’t disconnect your Mid-Rivers Wireless service until you have established service with another provider – only active numbers can be ported.
If you plan to transition to Verizon, you can visit https://www.verizonwireless.com/switch-to-verizon/ to determine if your phone number can be transferred to Verizon, or visit a local Verizon office.
To determine if your phone number can be transferred to T-Mobile, visit https://www.t-mobile.com/switch/
The prepaid and resale providers don’t typically have sites to check whether your number is portable, but they will allow you to port in eligible numbers at sign-up. Make sure to ask them about this before switching if this is important to you.
DO I STILL HAVE TO PAY THE REMAINING BALANCE DUE ON MY MID-RIVERS PHONE OR DEVICE?
No, Mid-Rivers is waiving any remaining wireless Device Installment Plan payments due on or after the date you disconnect cellular service with us, and the phone or device is yours to keep. All early termination fees on any remaining cellular service agreements will also be waived.
CAN I TAKE MY MID-RIVERS PHONE TO VERIZON OR ANOTHER CARRIER?
Verizon and other carriers use several different factors to determine if customer-owned devices can be activated on their networks. Mid-Rivers has shared technical specifications with Verizon about the devices we have on our network, but there is no guarantee that your device can be activated on Verizon’s network. However, Verizon and most other providers do have special incentive offers to help reduce the cost of a new device for customers who are switching to their service. Some carriers may also allow you to trade in newer devices toward the purchase price of a new phone or a gift card.
If you are interested in trying to keep your current device, you will need to ask the other providers about this as you review your options. Most have websites where you can enter the phone’s “IMEI” number or other data to see if your device is eligible, and if it is, you can simply purchase a SIM card from the new provider. When they ask for your current provider, select “Other.”
To check if you can use your handset on the Verizon network, visit https://www.verizonwireless.com/bring-your-own-device/ or visit a local Verizon office.
For T-Mobile, visit https://www.t-mobile.com/resources/bring-your-own-phone
For Straight Talk, https://www.straighttalk.com/wps/portal/home/Activate/byop/
For TracFone, https://www.tracfone.com/keep-your-own-phone
Consumer Cellular only allows you to bring phones previously used with AT&T or T-Mobile, or an unlocked GSM phone.
GreatCall service requires the purchase of a new Jitterbug flip phone or smartphone.
WILL MID-RIVERS OFFICES STILL CARRY CELL PHONES & ACCESSORIES?
Our local Mid-Rivers offices will no longer carry any cellular phones or accessories after the transition date. We will not be re-selling cellular services or activating phones for other providers. There are Verizon retail stores in Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, and Lewistown, several options in Billings and Rapid City, and many customers do business with these providers strictly online. You can also purchase pre-paid cellular phones and accessories at retailers like some local hardware stores and Wal-Mart.
CAN I TRANSFER MY CONTENT (CONTACTS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS, ETC.) FROM MY OLD PHONE WHEN I ACTIVATE MY NEW PHONE?
Typically, yes. Most providers have apps that will move your information from your current Smartphone to a new provider’s handset. Check with the new provider on the best way to do this based on your old and new handsets.
If you don’t have a Smartphone, you can go to the provider’s local store and typically they can help you transfer your information. Verizon has stores in Miles City, Glendive, Sidney and Lewistown. You can find AT&T and T-Mobile locations on the provider websites or in the phone book.
I AM A BUSINESS OR GOVERNMENT CUSTOMER WITH MULTIPLE LINES, DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING SPECIAL?
Business customers will need to find a new cellular provider on the same timelines as residential customers. For the best possible deal with your new provider, make sure you are talking to their Business or Government Sales contact. Most of the large carriers provide valuable discount offers to Business customers and extend those discounts to your personal lines. We have included some links below to help direct you to the business service contacts of other providers:
Verizon Business – Brian Bloom, Business Account Manager, 406-698-1005 or email@example.com. Any business of any size with a Tax ID number should contact Brian, including farm and ranch businesses who are eligible for special Agriculture discounts.
Verizon Government – Colton Schofield, Business Account Manager – Government, 406-546-7000 or Colton.Schofield@verizonwireless.com. This includes all local, city, county, state, federal and related agencies.
AT&T Business – Contact Eric Skavang - Business Account Executive, 605-641-5281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
T-Mobile Business – Visit www.t-mobile.com/business or call 1-844-428-9675
WILL THERE BE CHANGES IN MY LOCAL CALLING AREA / ADDITIONAL LONG DISTANCE CHARGES?
In general, the other carriers all have plans with Unlimited voice minutes, so when calling from your cell phone there will not typically be any long distance or airtime charges (however, make sure to carefully review the details of the specific provider and plan you select). Customers who had local landline-to-wireless calling in the Mid-Rivers Direct EAS plan (Mid-Rivers landline to Mid-Rivers cell phone) will not see any changes when originating calls from your landline to a Verizon cell phone. If you are switching cell service to a provider other than Verizon, you may incur long distance charges when calling from your landline to cell phone.
WILL THERE BE CHANGES IN HOW I NEED TO DIAL NUMBERS WITH THESE OTHER CARRIERS?
Most cellular providers went to universal 10-digit dialing some time ago, including Mid-Rivers. Dial plans shouldn’t change, but if you have trouble completing a call, just make sure you are dialing at least 10 digits (i.e., 406-XXX-XXXX) or 1+ the 10 digits (for long distance calls).
I OWN LAND WHERE YOU HAVE A CELL SITE, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY LEASE?
All landowners with whom we have cellular site leases and easements that will be impacted are being contacted with specific details on what happens next.
DID YOU GIVE MY NUMBER / NAME TO VERIZON?
No. We wanted our customers to be free to go to the provider of your choice. We have not shared your cellular numbers, customer names, or any other private information with any other provider.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE OF MID-RIVERS? ARE YOU GETTING OUT OF EVERYTHING?
Mid-Rivers is your Cooperative and it is our mission to provide essential high-quality telecommunications services with personal customer care at the lowest cost consistent with sound business practices. Broadband is today’s essential service, and unlike cellular services, we are the only broadband provider option for much of our service area. Thousands of customers remain without broadband and we are focusing our efforts on getting to them. While lines of business come and go, our focus must be on building a strong underlying network to support all your telecommunications infrastructure needs now and into the future. The sale of the cellular network now will help ensure modern wireless services remain in this region and will also allow us to focus more time and capital on rural broadband build-out. We have plans to be around for a long, long time serving the broadband needs of Eastern and Central Montana.