Verizon Wireless installs half of proposed antenna

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 8:00am
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In early September of 2015, Verizon Wireless informed The Block Island Times that it would be installing 14 small cell hardware devices, short canister-style antennae, in strategic locations on Block Island’s utility poles in an attempt to bolster service for Verizon Wireless customers on the island. Two years later, Verizon has installed eight small cells primarily in the downtown area to increase the company’s 4G LTE capacity during the summer season.

Verizon Wireless’s install has been part of the company’s $172 million initiative aimed at enhancing the service provider’s coverage in New England. The installation of the small cell equipment was supposed to range from Water Street to West Side Road and cover roughly a third of a mile in all directions at each location.

Block Island Power Company President Jeffery Wright told The Times that Verizon has “eight sites where they maintain pole top (small cell) equipment to help with cell service. They were asking about adding a couple more next year but that has been pretty quiet lately. You can see an installation just south of the intersection of Corn Neck Road and Beach Avenue.” (See accompanying graph.)

“We plan to add more in 2018,” said David Weissmann, Public Relations Manager for Verizon Wireless. Weissmann said he did not have any additional information on precisely when the next six cells would be installed.

Weissmann said that “the nodes add capacity to our network. This allows our network to handle more people using more devices to do more things. Users benefit from these nodes most during the busy summer season.”

The small cell hardware is “operational year-round,” said Weissmann. “The small cells expected in 2018 will provide some additional coverage.”

Verizon landlines

Some Verizon landline owners on Block Island have noted issues regarding sound quality, crackling noise and other concerns. Arlene Tunney, who lives on Corn Neck Road, said her phone has “terrible static.” She said the problem began in May, and after a problem-free summer, resurfaced again a few weeks ago. Lou Valente, who has a home on Old Mill Road, notified The Times about his issue, and said that it’s been an “ongoing problem.” 

“The static is loud enough that you can’t hold a conversation,” said Valente. “Verizon was out twice last year, and both times the service representative said there was a problem at the pole.” The issue went unresolved, and the “static has returned.”

Jessica Wronowski, who also lives on Old Mill Road, said, “I have intermittent crackling on my home landline. Worse than that, the phone at Dead Eye Dick’s has horrible audible quality. We can barely hear customers when they call and often resort to using our cell phones to confirm reservations and generally conduct business. I have had Verizon technicians out to both locations and nothing seems to improve, or not for long. I’ve replaced phones, spent hours on the phone with Verizon, but never get anywhere. Really frustrating, especially for the business.”

In response, Verizon spokesman Michael Murphy said that customers with complaints should “call into Verizon Technical Support so that a support professional can diagnose an issue — like a cordless phone being on a busy channel or too close to a power source, or maybe an issue with a wire inside or a cable outside. There are too many variables, which is why any customer with a question about their specific service should contact customer service directly.” 

You can find customer service contact information under “contact us” at www.verizon.com

As for the nuisance of RoboCalls, which Verizon notes are illegal, Murphy said, “Generally spammers utilize software that generates random phone number strings and subsequent iterations.” The following links provide information about what Verizon has undertaken to reduce RoboCalls, as well as tips that customers can utilize in dealing with such calls: http://vz.to/2yRJcCB and http://vz.to/2AxoPvc