Sunday, June 19, 2011

Northwest Cellular Celebrates 20 Years of Service

Over the past twenty years, cellular phones and the way they affect our lives have experienced a significant evolution. Usage has advanced from primarily voice, to texting, and now to internet. Likewise, phone form factors continue to progress. Yesterday’s bulky bag phones are barely recognizable as the precursor to today’s computer-like smart phones. In that time, locally owned nationwide cellular service provider Northwest Missouri Cellular has experienced many changes as well.

Northwest Missouri Cellular Limited Partnership was formed in 1989 in an alliance between Oregon Farmers Mutual Company, Grand River Mutual Telephone Cooperative, IAMO Telephone, Alltel Mobile Communications, and Southwestern Bell Wireless. Being locally owned and operated is one of the main advantages setting them apart from their competition.

General Manger, Roger Bundridge, points out, “Because our owners and employees have a vested interest in our local communities, we believe in giving back to those communities through various charities, sponsorships, and events. Our business has grown from a couple of employees to almost 30 since we began. We have a highly trained, dedicated, award winning customer service staff at the Maryville headquarters, in addition to our 11 agent locations throughout the 5 county area available to meet any and all customer needs.”

Considering their customer’s suggestions has aided them in becoming an industry leader with innovative plans like the popular $5.95 N-B-Tween Youth Plan and their $10 Family Data Share option allowing all lines on a plan to share one internet package. Presently, Northwest Missouri Cellular is the only provider in the area to offer a youth plan or family data share option. Programs such as Upgrade Advantage, and Cell Exchange have also benefited from this approach.

All that said, being a small locally owned company doesn’t come without its’ challenges. According to Bundridge, “One of the biggest challenges we face is breaking the misconception that we only offer local service. We do offer the best local coverage network in this area, but we also have strategic partnerships with cellular service providers throughout the country for the best, most reliable nationwide coverage available. These things combine to give us a coverage map that cannot be beat.”

Another challenge pertains to pricing: “A false impression some may have is that, because we are a small local business, our pricing on phones and plans are higher, when in fact, we are extremely competitive with our larger counterparts. In most cases we are actually less expensive,” Bundridge said. One example is their Unlimited Nationwide Talk Plan. At $39.99 it has the lowest price of any carrier available to area residents. And unlike other carriers, Northwest Missouri Cellular allows every customer to receive incoming texts for free. Bundridge comments, “We sponsor text alerts for all 18 schools in our five counties, so we wanted to allow all customers to experience the benefits of text messages at no cost to them.”

What does the future hold? Bundridge offers this insight: “Phone selection has really opened up within the last year. Today, our customers have many phone choices, especially with smart phones. Google’s Android is beginning to take the lead over Apple’s iPhone. The key advantage with Android is that the majority of the applications are free.” He continues, “Not long ago, smart phones were rather expensive; however, we are starting to see the prices drop, which is great for customers looking to move to a smart device. I feel that the majority of our customers will be using a smart phone within the next 5 years. You can count on our Customer Service Representatives being there to help adjust to this advance in technology.”

Northwest Missouri Cellular is looking forward to continuing their twenty year commitment of providing exemplary customer service, coverage, cost and community involvement.

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