Singing the South American 'CDMA blues'

I hope Verizon doesn't read this. It's been so good to me the past six months, but now that I'm heading to Latin America again, all I can think about is AT&T.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects, and CNET's "Living off the Grid" series Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack
3 min read

My honeymoon with Verizon is finally over. I knew this would happen when we entered that sacred bond--the two-year-contract. I knew I was locking myself into CDMA, but I was vulnerable. I'd just broken off a rocky relationship with AT&T three weeks before our two-year anniversary. OK, OK, the truth is I cheated. I'd been flirting with Verizon for a few months before I finally ordered a Droid 2--when I should have been spending time reviewing my contract with AT&T, and thinking of the good times with my HTC Tilt.

But I was having a hard time conjuring those memories--too many dropped calls, spotty coverage, no 3G within a hundred miles of my house... I knew in my heart it was over, so why draw it out any further?

Broken screens and broken hearts in a landscape of harsh beauty. Flickr user Jennifer Gaillard

So I welcomed Verizon into my life. AT&T was not happy. She sent me a cold, heartless letter asking for $60 and hired a third-party survey company to call and ask, essentially, "Was it you? Or was it me?" I told the scripted voice on the other end of the line about the lack of broadband in our relationship, the coverage problems, and the rest, but I also found myself reminiscing about the good times I had long since buried.

There was an especially delightful trip to Mexico, a romantic month spent driving through Sonora and Baja--the sunsets and 3G coverage were truly beautiful. As we drove together through barren deserts, AT&T stayed with me, and with a stronger signal than we had in more populated areas of New Mexico.

I hope Verizon doesn't read this. She's been so good to me the past six months, and I know it's not her fault, but now that I'm heading to Latin America again, all I can think about is AT&T. Verizon may offer a vast network in the United States, but because she's a CDMA carrier, her coverage abroad is much less extensive than that of AT&T or T-Mobile. Using a Verizon CDMA handset, you can roam to various locales around the world, but Argentina is not one of them.

Thus, Verizon's reassuring omnipresence won't be with me at all when I step off a plane in Buenos Aires tomorrow morning. Last night while I was packing, I got that old HTC Touch out of a bottom drawer. I looked at it tentatively. AT&T's sim card was still there. The good times came flooding back--Cabo, Ensenada, Nogales...

Related links
World roaming with Verizon Wireless
Roam where you want to: Smartphones for globe-trotters
On Call: Traveling abroad with your cell phone

I shouldn't be having these thoughts. If I only had just waited a few months for the Droid 2 Global, then at last we could all just be happy...

But that's not the way things turned out. And Verizon, sweetheart that she is, is trying her best. She said she'd gladly send me a loaner phone for South America, but there would be no data plan available and international roaming would be 5 bucks a minute, more than 10 times what AT&T offered on previous trips. I said, "No thanks, my love," which certainly confused the call center employee. But I didn't care.

It's important for Verizon to know how I feel now more than ever, because I know what's going to happen: within 48 hours I'll be sitting in a tiny office in Argentina buying a prepaid sim from some Latin temptress of a regional carrier. My Droid 2 will be in my pocket, but only the Wi-Fi will be turned on. I never thought I'd be a cheater, but I guess I should have listened to my mom when she told me I deserved the best, even if it means leaving a string of broken hearts in my wake.

Perhaps it's finally time to unlock...my heart. If you've got any tips for a hot Latin American GSM fling, let me know; I might as well embrace my depravity.