TELECOM Digest Editor asked in a message:
Nextel uses a technology called iDEN which is different from all of the other carriers in the U.S. A Nextel phone will work anywhere there is iDEN coverage, which is Nextel's network in the US and Mexico, Telus in Canada, and some carriers in a few other countries.
Nextel's coverage is pretty good, and they have as good a claim to national coverage as anyone else. Their coverage has holes in rural areas, but so does anyone else's. The holes are just different. There is for example a narrow valley about 20 miles east of here where no cell phones work at all and, considering how rural it is, they never will. No mobile carrier anywhere provides 100% coverage, and it was pretty foolish of your nephew to expect to be reachable all the time.
Somehow we all managed to survive back in the dark ages when travellers had to drop coins into pay phones to call home, and you couldn't get in touch with travelling friends and relatives at all unless you were able to leave a message at a place where they'd be staying. How come now it's a major crisis if someone a thousand miles away isn't instantly available at a touch of a button? Sheesh.
John[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: It is not a 'major crisis'; but rather, just quite inconvenient when you are sold a device (commonly known as a 'cell phone') with the assurance it will work 'anywhere', and you have no particular reason to distrust the seller of same only to then later find out the seller was full of hot air. And it is not merely that the 'push to talk' function is not available (I certainly would not miss that feature very much; it is more of a curiosity to me) but even the 'traditional cell phone features' do not work either. PAT]n