Wednesday, July 11, 2018

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Solving Sullivan’s sparse cell service a never-ending battle

MONTICELLO – Summer is here and so are thousands visitors, who tend to flock to some areas of Sullivan County still mostly without cell coverage.

County Legislator Nadia Rajsz, of Lumberland, told the legislature’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday statistics make for a compelling case.

“Two hundred and fifty-thousand visitors coming in and they can’t use their cellphone and we have river rescue,” Rajsz said.  “We can lose lives very easily, and we have.”

Deputy County Manager Dan Depew said they have had initial discussion with the Upper Delaware Council, which, he said, initially was not receptive to putting cell towers in certain specific locations.  Rajsz, a member of the Upper Delaware Council, said she will press the issue, calling cell coverage, including towers, a “necessary evil.”

County 911 Administrator Alex Rau said they have had some discussion with Verizon about putting up more towers in addition to current locations, Tennanah Lake near Callicoon, Highland and Forestburgh, but not in Rajsz’s hometown of Lumberland. 

Rau said Verizon tends to put up towers where they know they will pick up paying customers. 

AT&T is a different story, Rau said, because of that carrier’s FirstNet project. 

“They don’t care as much about return on investment with the FirstNet project; they’re looking to fill gaps,” Rau said.

AT&T describes its FirstNet mission as “… to deploy, operate, maintain, and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.”

One idea that is not working that well is Text-to-911.  Rau said the big issue with that method is that most text messages cannot be traced to a geographic location, as can cell calls, which can be pinpointed to within feet.

 


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