Verizon has practically no coverage, voice or data, in the tourist zone/Pacific Ocean side of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Verizon will tell you do, but they don't, and all Americans in Cabo know.
This is causing Verizon to lose customers in the U.S. Here is why.
Verizon contracts with local CDMA provider that basically forfeits the tourist zone where most Americans go. There is a great GSM provider there -- Telcel -- but Verizon doesn't contract with Telcel. So if you bought a global-ready Verizon device (GSM-ready) it won't matter in Cabo because Verizon won't isn't doing business with Telcel -- to the great dismay of all the Verizon customers in the tourist zone.
The tourist zone in Cabo is the location of a rapidly growing, prosperous time-share/fractional ownership "new town" area on the Cabo outskirts. The Pueblo Bonito group has built and is expanding three huge developments (Sunset Beach, Montechristo and Pacifica) and is also installing a new fractional ownership golf resort in the area, Quivera.
Because of the time share ownership, thousands of owners – mostly well-to-do Americans, many of whom are business/small business leaders – visit, invest and buy in this area. They don't much time there, but enough to need reliable voice/data coverage.
Because it is a vibrant time share area, every week sees a new influx of American cell phone customers who share the same concern for coverage at their fractional property.
And they all have the same problem: Americans in this area cannot get any Verizon coverage, because Verizon does not contract with Telcel, and Verizon's current local provider does not provide service to the tourist zone like Telcel does.
However, all of Verizon's competitors – AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile – do contract with Telcel (or some provider) that provides 5-bar coverage in this area.
In fact, the only major U.S. cell provider that does NOT service this area is Verizon.
This fact has spread like wildfire throughout the tourist zone and is now viral.
It is important to understand that the local time share operators at Pueblo Bonito tell all their new investor/buyers to make sure that they have AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile.
They tell all the buyers that Verizon has no coverage in the area, regardless of what Verizon tells them, and they need to drop Verizon if they want to use their cell phones and Blackberrys.
So, Americans who spend any time in Cabo return to the U.S., and make plans to drop their Verizon services in favor of, usually, AT&T. I talked to many owners who all said the same thing – drop Verizon and go with someone else; that is what they did. We heard this all over the tourist zone.
So, Americans who spend 51 weeks in the U.S. are shifting their cell/Blackberry packages to other carriers to make sure they will have good coverage during their time share week in Cabo San Lucas.
And they tell their neighbors, colleagues, coworkers and employees that Verizon's Global coverage is unreliable, people shouldn't count on it anywhere because of their bad experience in Cabo. They take this message back all across the U.S.: if you travel, dump Verizon, don't' trust the Verizon global phones or global services. If you travel, it is unreliable and perhaps dangerous to rely upon Verizon. Nobody wants to buy a different GSM phone just to go to Cabo – they make the change away from Verizon for all use, in the U.S. as well as abroad. .
Sadly, Verizon has simply failed to keep up with its competition. It is so easy to see other residents getting 5 bars on AT&T while Verizon customers can't send a single text message from the tourist zone. Among the kids in the zone, having Verizon is considered lame, bogus, not cool and kinda ***.
This is a problem with feasible solutions:
Demand that the local CDMA carrier that Verizon currently uses install a signal tower in the rapidly growing tourist zone, one with signal strength and coverage to match the competition.
Contract with Telcel to provide GSM service. I bought a Verizon Blackberry Bold to use GSM signals, and I could see that the Telcel service was terrific.
My wife and I both have Verizon phones, but we are going to Cabo once per year and will have to switch both of our accounts back to AT&T if Verizon isn't going to serve the Cabo Pacific tourist zone area.