Totally Wireless: Cell Phone Service on Lake is Now Complete
By Anthony F. Hall
Friday, November 25, 2011
With the activation of new cell towers in Huletts Landing, Hague, Bolton and Pilot Knob, the few remaining gaps in cell phone service on Lake George have been filled, at least for customers of AT&T.
AT&T announced the activation of its new towers at a press conference at the Huletts Landing Fire House on October 27 with Lake George’s representative in the New York State Senate, Betty Little.
“Expanding and enhancing New York’s mobile broadband network brings home the benefits of broadband access to many consumers in the Adirondacks who are relying more and more on wireless technology to access the Internet,” said Little. “This kind of investment is critical to keeping New York competitive.”
Art Borin, the president of the Huletts Landing Volunteer Fire Department, said the entire lake now has access to cell phone service.
Until the new towers were activated, not only Huletts Landing but much of northern Lake George was without coverage, said Borin.
“The lake is used year round; by island campers, boaters, ice fishermen and snowmobilers,” said Borin. “If there was an accident, there was no way to call for help. Cell phone service is necessary for safety, and we were a dead zone.”
According to Borin, the Huletts Landing Volunteer Fire Department launched an effort to bring cell phone service to the area in 2009.
“We approached Senator Little, and she put us in touch with the carriers and we’ve been working with AT&T ever since,” said Borin.
“The community asked for help and we joined the effort,” said Ellen Webner, a spokesperson for AT&T.
Over the course of sixteen months, Webner said, “we got to know the folks in Huletts Landing well and they got to know us. We became a part of the community.”
That relationship led AT&T to decide to donate $5,000 to the Huletts Landing Volunteer Fire Department, said Webner.
“The donation was phenomenally helpful,” said Art Borin. “We work diligently to upgrade our equipment, and this helps us do that.”
“New business is very important to us, but just as important to us are the communities where we live and work everyday,” Robert Holliday, an AT&T vice president and general manager for Upstate New York, said at the October 27 press conference as he presented a ceremonial check to the Fire Department.
Almost everyone in the Adirondack Park will have access to reliable cell phone service in five years, Senator Little predicted.
“Coverage has improved significantly, and the carriers have told us the Adirondack Park Agency’s permitting process for towers has improved and is much more predictable, but there are still gaps in service,” said Little. “Cell phone service and, increasingly, mobile, high speed broadband, are absolutely necessary elements of any infrastructure. Without them, we’re just missing opportunities for economic growth.”
The region’s sparse, year-round population deterred some telecommunications companies from extending service to the Adirondacks, Little said.
“Demographics were a problem,” said Little. “We had to persuade the carriers that our second-home population and tourists made it economically viable to site towers here.”
According to Ellen Webner, “AT&T is committed to bringing service to rural areas as quickly as possible.”
“People are using their cell phones for much more than calls; they’re surfing the web, downloading files and accessing apps. That’s why we not only activated eight new cell sites, but we’ve also boosted sites throughout the Adirondacks with mobile broadband enhancements. People want acess from their smart phones and tablets, and they want it fast,” said Webner.
AT&T invested more than $200 million in its New York wireless and wireline networks in 2011, said Amy Hines Kramer, regional vice president of external affairs for AT&T in New York.
“We’re working to bring wireless coverage to rural areas like Adirondack Park throughout New York State,” said Hines.
“AT&T will continue to look for new opportunities in the Adirondack Park to be a good neighbor and to provide enhanced wireless services and products as a way to help drive the local economy,” said Robert Holliday.