According to a new report from U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, there are over 4,000 cell phone dead zones across upstate New York.
What’s worse, Erie County has some 368 and ranks second among counties with the most dead zones. The findings are the result of a crowd sourcing campaign this past winter where Schumer asked residents to report dead zones. He found many areas throughout Upstate New York that experience poor quality when it comes to cell phone network speed, network reliability, data performance, call performance and text performance.
There were a total of 4,366 dead zones reported across Upstate NY. During a call with reporters, Schumer highlighted these numbers by region:
- In the Capital Region, there were 635 reported dead zones.
- In Western New York, there were 733 reported dead zones.
- In Central New York, there were 407 reported dead zones.
- In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 440 reported dead zones.
- In the Southern Tier, there were 788 reported dead zones.
- In the Hudson Valley, there were 970 reported dead zones.
- In the North Country, there were 393 reported dead zones.
Schumer revealed the locations with poor reception Wednesday and then publicly asked carriers to come up with a solution to fix them that meets community need and consent.
“When it comes to cell service across Upstate New York, these dead zones are proof carriers need to—quite frankly—raise the bar,” said Schumer. “The entire Upstate New York area should not be home to over 4,000 dead zones. Upstate NY is home to several universities, thousands of businesses and more – so residents’ and business owners’ cell phone coverage must remain uninterrupted. Now communities across the entire state have submitted critical dead zones locations to my office, our wireless carries must make sure they are fixed.”
This push came on the heels of the news that, in recent years, many New York consumers reported increasing problems with poor network performance, particularly in more rural areas where there are fewer cellular towers and less wireless infrastructure. For example, according to a 2015 Poughkeepsie Journal report, the Hudson Valley ranked amongst the worst of 125 populous U.S. metro areas surveyed for mobile network performance.
In addition to the tourism, business and health and safety-related concerns, constituents also listed roaming charges and signal boosters as major factors to take into account when it came to dead zones. Schumer explained that many constituents voiced complaints related to cell coverage from Canada overpowering U.S. cell coverage on a consistent basis as a reason for dead zones occurring.
While these individuals could turn off automatic roaming on their phones, roaming seems to be a default option on the phone. Thus, individuals have to opt-out of roaming to prevent receiving a Canadian signal. In other words, New Yorkers are boxed in between paying expensive roaming fees, arguing with customer service reps for hours to have these fees taken off or reduced, or turning off roaming and having no service.
When it comes to signal boosters, many constituents also reported that they would have no signal in their home if not for a signal booster. These are additional pieces of hardware that consumers must pay for, in addition to their current monthly payments, in order to have service. In short, after paying for cell service and receiving no cell coverage, New Yorkers have had to pay the piper yet again for the service that they should already have had.