When Greg Gagnon began working in the cellular telephone business, 80 percent of phone usage was making calls. Very few people texted and no one could surf the web. Now, according to Gagnon, who co-owns Wireless World in Windham and Saco, the reverse is true. The under 25 generation are texting 80 percent of the time, up to 6,000 texts a month, and talking only rarely, he said.
“It’s a way of life. It’s something you need to turn around and go back for, like your keys and wallet. It’s something you won’t do without,” said Gagnon.
At Wireless World they carry Samsung phones and others, which use the Android operating system or Blackberry phones. Wireless World also offers a 15-day guarantee, so if a phone isn’t right for customer, they can return it and only pay for the services used. The most popular phone right now is the Samsung S3, said Gagnon. “It has the best of everything until three weeks from now when the S4 comes out,” he said.
With a phone, people can email, surf the web, price shop or use Google Wallet. “Phones give driving directions, entertainment, social media and even can be your own hotspot,” said Gagnon. “Today’s technology is a lot tighter. There are a lot more towers than in years past. There are towers every three or four miles with data coverage,” Gagnon said. Up north, it’s every 20 miles per tower, but they are stronger.
Gagnon and Troy Pfeiffer, opened Wireless World in 2000 and became an US Cellular agent in 2004. They have seen ups and downs in the cell phone industry. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of change,” Gagnon said. In the past, customers could see a difference between carriers, but now, “it’s pretty much the same. It’s kind of like a gas station, you can get gas anywhere,” he said, adding that people are doing more comparison shopping now.
Keeping up with technology is for the very dedicated. “It’s a day to day struggle. New phones come out monthly,” said Gagnon. Diehards keep their phones for six or seven months, then replace them with something new, he added.
If someone wants the latest and greatest, Gagnon has no problem telling them to wait because something else is coming along, but there is an advantage to being the second one to get it and let the other guy work the bugs out, he said.
Many families are no longer keeping a home phone line. They are adding a line for $10 and keeping that phone plugged in at home, Gagnon said.
“It is hard to compete. We’re a much smaller carrier, but we treat people not like a number, but as a person.