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Officials say cell service improving in Washington County, Adirondacks

2011-10-29T16:03:00Z Officials say cell service improving in Washington County, AdirondacksBy JAMIE MUNKS -- jmunks@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
October 29, 2011 4:03 pm  • 

Washington County and parts of the Adirondack Park are getting better connected.

Officials say cellular service and increased broadband connectivity in areas where they've been lacking are vital to economic development, safety, education and quality of life in the region. And state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, plans to keep fighting for more coverage.

"Without it, we're missing a lot of opportunities," Little said Thursday. "There are still a lot of parts of Washington County that don't have service, and we're working on getting those connected."

Cellphone coverage is sparse in many rural areas, which means it may be difficult for students to participate in distance learning, people may not be able to dial 911 in an emergency and it can isolate residents.

The situation has improved, Little said, recalling a time when one could drive from Warrensburg to Tupper Lake with no cell service the entire time. Now, people can connect at some points along the way.

One of the biggest reasons coverage has been so sparse is that cellular and broadband carriers didn't see much of a return on their investment in rural areas, but it's become so vital for the economy, Little said.

"It's not just chatting, that's now what this is about anymore," Little said. "We need year-round residents in the North Country and without coverage, we're not going to attract businesses to locate here or young people to stay and work here."

On Thursday, representatives from AT&T announced in a press conference at the Huletts Landing Volunteer Fire Company that they have activated more cell sites, bringing coverage to areas where it was either spotty or nonexistent. They gathered with Sen. Little and Art Borin, a member of the Dresden Town Board and president of the Huletts Volunteer Fire Company, to announce new cellular sites that have been activated in Bolton, Caroga Lake, Hague, Huletts Landing, Johnsburg, Northville, between exits 25 and 26 of the Northway and Pilot Knob. The company has also been improving and increasing broadband capacity in the Adirondacks, and activated three Washington County sites last week: Argyle, Easton and Mount Colfax.

The changes mean AT&T customers can make phone calls in more places in the Adirondacks and Washington County and that there's improved broadband availability.

"In an emergency situation, time is a critical element," Borin said. "There have been times here and around the lake when it took entirely too much time to respond because we weren't made aware of it."

For Sen. Little, this has meant working with multiple cellular and broadband providers to expand and improve the coverage in some of the most rural areas of her district, including Verizon Wireless.

Verizon has added broadband capacity to more than 50 sites in the area, has focused on improving cell coverage along the Northway and has brought cellular coverage to about 40 new sites in the past two years. The company has also filed applications with the Adirondack Park Association for new sites in the park, said John O'Malley, Verizon Wireless public relations manager for the upstate New York region.

Without identifying specifics, O'Malley said the company is looking for other expansion opportunities too.

"It's challenging - it's a mountainous area and more sites are needed to cover it," O'Malley said. "The signal doesn't go through the mountains, so you need to engineer around them."

Copyright 2016 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. MaketheSense
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    MaketheSense - October 31, 2011 8:57 am
    parwana said: ".. If the powers-that-be hadn't decided to try to take the authority to build a tower by eminent domain from the family who owned the rights things may have moved more quickly. In the end the lawyers made money and we still don't have a cell tower."

    Now That is belligerence. The dark side of business.
  2. justpassin'thru
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    justpassin'thru - October 30, 2011 4:08 pm
    We have absolutely no cell service where we live in Bolton - have to drive at least 5-6 miles to find a connection - so no improvement in our area that I can see. With difficult winter driving ahead again it would be wonderful to think the cell phone would be available when and if needed. My car is equipped with a separate phone that works with On-Star but everyone does not have that. It is true that the Adirondacks is not very business friendly if you ask me - extremely tight zoning and regulations up here. Tough area to earn a living in for sure.
  3. DWC121
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    DWC121 - October 30, 2011 3:58 pm
    Peter Guerin said: "I've spoken to Carol LaGrasse--the head of the Property Rights Foundation of America--about this, and she and I are in complete agreement in regard to more cell towers in the Adirondack Park area."

    Maybe you and Carol should investigate the LightRadio Cube and convince the Cell companies to put these on top of the electric poles along Adirondack highways as a test project. Probably no need to get the APA involved at all.

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/21/technology/light_radio/index.htm
  4. parwana
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    parwana - October 30, 2011 11:49 am
    "One of the biggest reasons coverage has been so sparse is that cellular and broadband carriers didn't see much of a return on their investment in rural areas, but it's become so vital for the economy, Little said."

    Funny, a few years ago Betty Little was blaming the APA while I was commenting on this site to say that it was more of a financial decision by the cell carriers. Maybe the lesson here is that our local political leaders are terribly ineffective and should be replaced by people who are more open to reality instead of trying to make every issue into an attack on the APA, or Obama.

    Read more: http://poststar.com/news/local/officials-say-cell-service-improving-in-washington-county-adirondacks/article_651cd7c6-0269-11e1-8c21-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1cHPneoho
  5. parwana
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    parwana - October 30, 2011 11:43 am
    Peter, the APA approved a cell tower location on at the site of the Luzerne water tower YEARS ago. Call Gene Merlino and ask him why it isn't up yet. We have been asking regularly for months (years?) and the story is always the same, "it's coming soon."

    "Soon" has come and gone several times now. If the powers-that-be hadn't decided to try to take the authority to build a tower by eminent domain from the family who owned the rights things may have moved more quickly. In the end the lawyers made money and we still don't have a cell tower.
  6. walnutstck
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    walnutstck - October 30, 2011 9:18 am
    For some users cell phone cost is on the ave. of $120 a mo. This is by far 3 times higher than regular phone useage. Considering that the necessary equiptment to operate either landline or celluar service is by far outdated throughout the nation and especially rural areas like the Adirondack community. Consumers are paying extraordinary high fees for a service that is constantly changing with newer technology. You never quite catch up and here comes another change. The changes in cell phones may appear small to the consumer but they are big in comparison. When all of a sudden you realize that the faster growth of users requiring the need and/or want of these services has now come about, you come to the conclusion that the cost has far exceeded the cost had you done installed the towers years ago. Now you realize these towers are obsolete and newer and much more costlier equiptment is available. This political attitude that the APA and the telephone companies, is going to hurt change.
  7. reflections of
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    reflections of - October 29, 2011 11:36 pm
    The real estate values and attractiveness of an area is dependent upon being competitive to a global economy and world economy. Let us be progressive and move forward together to promote the health, safety of our people and the vibrancy of our local economy.
  8. debatethis
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    debatethis - October 29, 2011 11:36 pm
    "We need year-round residents in the North Country and without coverage, we're not going to attract businesses to locate here or young people to stay and work here"

    That is such a crock. Places like the Town of Johnsburg say we want business to the public but appear at any zoning meeting and see what the real TRUTH is. It's not all the APA, it's CERTAINLY not prospective business owners, it's some of the rude OLD zoning board and part time/seasonal residents that get more say then the people that live here full time. See how fast they back down when threatened by out-of-towners. The TRUTH is the restrictions have been made tight by not just the APA but local townships loaded with seniors or tourists that want their precious fantasy island ideals to be pushed upon others. You want business then ALLOW business. Just exactly where are businesses allowed to be? Unless it involves booze you lose. Cell phones are the last thing to worry about. The out-of-towners have them already.


  9. politicoQB
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    politicoQB - October 29, 2011 9:13 pm
    Or, you could realize that cell service should not be taken for granted,you should not drive a car in remote regions in a blinding snowstorm at night if you do not have the ability to walk a half mile, and you cannot have blazingly fast internet service if you choose to live in a house far from civilization. Easy!
  10. Peter Guerin
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    Peter Guerin - October 29, 2011 8:59 pm
    DWC121 said: "This is nice, but I wonder if cell companies will ever put in something more modern (like Light Radio) than old fashion cell towers in the Adirondacks. The day the Adirondacks get totally connected, this area will be out-of-date with future technology. At that time the cell companies might start to shut down cell towers in the 'Dacks because parts can not be found. "

    As I said, blame the radical enviromentalists on this. The only cell tower they'll tolerate (and bareley, to add) is something like that God-awful "Frankenpipe" they put up some time back.

    I've spoken to Carol LaGrasse--the head of the Property Rights Foundation of America--about this, and she and I are in complete agreement in regard to more cell towers in the Adirondack Park area. That and they really need to fix those emergency phones as well.

  11. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - October 29, 2011 8:30 pm
    Peter Guerin - There's also the possibility that the local phone company (Frontier) in Hadley, Day and Edinburgh, may have pressured the APA not to allow cell towers. I'm sure Frontier would hate to loose a lot of customers to Verizon and ATT.

    Also, as I've said before, cell towers as we know them (sticking up in the air) are old technology. Some areas in the US and Europe now use Light Radio technology. Light Radio is an "antenna" box about a foot square, 20 feet off the ground, and are placed every mile or so (2-3 miles in less populated areas or deep in the woods). They don't require a "hut" or use a lot of electric power. Some even use solar power. They do, however, need a fiber line to the local switched telephone network.
  12. FrogWhizzer
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    FrogWhizzer - October 29, 2011 8:17 pm
    We have a camp that is located 5 miles in the woods in Forest Port NY & we get cell service just fine. I also live in the Village of Argyle and have NO CELL sevice what so ever! We need service!
  13. reflections of
    Report Abuse
    reflections of - October 29, 2011 8:03 pm
    reflections of; Mr. Guerin speaks to an important issue that must be addressed. Area representatives should be attentive to this safety issue from all sides of the aisle.
  14. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - October 29, 2011 5:56 pm
    This is nice, but I wonder if cell companies will ever put in something more modern (like Light Radio) than old fashion cell towers in the Adirondacks. The day the Adirondacks get totally connected, this area will be out-of-date with future technology. At that time the cell companies might start to shut down cell towers in the 'Dacks because parts can not be found.
  15. Peter Guerin
    Report Abuse
    Peter Guerin - October 29, 2011 4:51 pm
    If cell phone and Internet service is improving, how come the APA still won't let Saratoga County build a cell phone tower in the northwest corner of the county? There's no cell phone service in Hadley, Day and Edinburgh because the extremist elements in the green movement define "forever wild" so radically as to prohibit the construction of a cell phone tower. If something isn't done soon, we could see another deadly incident like what happened in the Northway a few years back. I think the State Constitution should be amended to allow the construction of cell phone towers so that people's lives can be saved and we can join the 21st Century instead of depending on dial-up to access the Web.

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