09.15.15

SCHUMER: CELL PHONE SERVICE IN SULLIVAN COUNTY IS ABYSMAL; WIRELESS CARRIERS ARE FALSLY CLAIMING QUALITY RECEPTION ON COVERAGE MAPS WHEN, IN REALITY, AREAS ARE OFTEN DEAD ZONES; SCHUMER CALLS FOR FEDS TO IMMEDIATELY INVESTIGATE DECEPTIVE COVERAGE MAPS

Recent Study Claims Network Service Throughout The Hudson Valley Ranks Last Place Among The Most Populated Metro Areas In The United Sates 

Major Wireless Carriers Are Displaying Parts Of Sullivan County As Having Good Quality Coverage, When Many of those Areas Are Actually Dead Zones 

Schumer To Feds: Sullivan County Cell Phone Consumers Should Know The Truth About Coverage Areas

 

Standing at the bottom of Ferndale Loomis Road in Sullivan County, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed that major wireless carriers are advertising regions on coverage maps as having good coverage, when in reality, they are often dead zones. Schumer said that those who live in Sullivan County and the Hudson Valley know all too well about coverage problems. Schumer said that, at best, these problems are inconvenient and expensive for customers, and that in some situations not having service could pose a threat to safety. Thus, Schumer called for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to immediately crackdown on lack of transparency and accuracy in wireless carriers' coverage maps, which currently lead consumers to ‎incorrectly believe there is good cell service areas with poor service. Specifically, Schumer is asking the FCC to investigate whether network providers are fairly and accurately advertising wireless coverage so that consumers can make informed choices.

“There are more cell phone dead zones in Sullivan County than post-winter potholes on the West Side Highway – and misrepresenting coverage maps to give the impression a wireless carrier provides coverage in an area where it does not is false advertising, pure and simple,” said Schumer. “When a consumer checks out the purported cell phone coverage area, it appears comprehensive. Yet, in reality, it is spotty and inconsistent. It is not only inconvenient for residents and visitors to the Hudson Valley and Sullivan County, but it is also a public safety hazard. Wireless carriers must be held accountable to produce accurate coverage maps.”

Schumer explained that wireless carriers use coverage maps oftentimes to show that their company offers superior coverage compared to competitors. However, because Americans are increasingly relying on wireless technology to communicate, customers rely on these coverage maps advertised by the carriers to make their purchasing decisions. Schumer said that is exactly why it is critical these maps be accurate. In recent years, many New York consumers have reported increasing problems with poor network performance, particularly in more rural areas where there are fewer cellular towers and less wireless infrastructure. One of the areas that has received the worst coverage, despite wireless companies’ advertisements, is the Hudson Valley and, in particular, Sullivan County.

According to a recent study released by RootMetrics, the Hudson Valley, including Sullivan County, ranked in last place of 125 populous U.S. metro areas surveyed for mobile network performance. Despite major network carriers advertising full coverage in their maps in most areas of the Hudson Valley, the study found that the actual service in the area failed in six major categories, including overall performance, network speed, network reliability, data performance, call performance and text performance. Schumer said this unfair to consumers who do their research before making a decision regarding cellphone carriers and are left surprised following the purchase when they realize many areas in Sullivan County, and throughout the Hudson Valley, are complete dead zones.

Schumer said that without accurate coverage maps, consumers in the Hudson Valley and across the nation are forced to go through the onerous, expensive and sometimes dangerous experience of dead zones, dropped calls and poor clarity. With the proliferation of smart phones in particular, consumers are using wireless carriers far more than landlines to keep in touch with loved ones, peers, and business contacts. In addition to communicating, wireless services support global positioning system (GPS) products that are essential to residents and tourists alike. Schumer said the lack of wireless coverage could make tourists reluctant to travel to an area knowing they will not have the ability to use their GPS technology to explore the area or make calls in an emergency situation. Schumer said area shop owners and local businesses have also reported experiencing dropped calls when using wireless devices to conduct business with customers, and this could impact their ability to succeed.

As a result, Schumer said this lack of coverage is not only inconvenient, it is becoming an economic deterrent. Finally, the lack of wireless coverage throughout the Hudson Valley and Sullivan County can be a threat to public safety. Schumer cited a 2010 incident in which 54 school-aged children were injured when a school bus crashed at the bottom of Ferndale-Loomis Road in Liberty, where he stood today. Schumer said this accident proved particularly dangerous when it was discovered there was little to no cellphone service to reach first responders.

For these reasons, Schumer said quality wireless service must be an essential part of modern U.S. infrastructure, just like water, housing and clean air, and consumers deserve access to information that allows them to make informed decisions about their wireless carriers. As a result, he is urging the FCC to investigate and closely examine the wireless coverage of the Hudson Valley. Schumer said this is needed to ensure network carriers are advertising accurate coverage maps, for convenience, economic development and public safety purposes. Now, more than ever before, Schumer said, it is critical ‎that the FCC help protect consumers by ensuring that network carriers are providing accurate representations of the wireless service that consumers will receive.

Schumer was joined by Sullivan County officials during his visit.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the FCC appears below:

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

Thank you for your dedication to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality telecommunication services. I am writing to you today because I am concerned about the disparity between the wireless coverage that carriers show on coverage maps and the actual access my constituents experience in New York.  I ask that you investigate whether network providers are fairly and accurately advertising wireless coverage so that consumers can make informed choices.  New York consumers have reported increasing problems of poor network performance, in particular lack of service in areas that are advertised as covered.

Americans increasingly rely on wireless technology to communicate and keep in touch with loved ones, peers, and business contacts. With the proliferation of smart phones, these devices have become necessary parts of people's everyday lives.  In addition, wireless services support global positioning system (GPS) products which can be essential to residents and tourists alike. Customers rely on the coverage maps advertised by the carriers to make their purchasing decisions. That is why it is critical that the maps provided in stores and on the carriers’ websites are accurate.

In fact, a recent study released by RootMetrics ranked Hudson Valley, New York in last place of 125 populous U.S. metro areas surveyed for mobile network performance. Despite major network carriers advertising full coverage on their coverage maps in most areas of the Hudson Valley, the study found that the actual service in the area failed in six categories: overall performance, network speed, network reliability, data performance, call performance and text performance. Without accurate coverage maps, consumers in the Hudson Valley and across the nation are forced to go through the onerous and sometimes dangerous experience of dead zones, dropped calls and poor clarity. Now, more than ever before, it is critical ‎that the FCC help protect consumers by ensuring that network carriers are providing accurate representations of the wireless service that consumers will receive.

Quality wireless service is ‎now an essential part of modern U.S. infrastructure, just like water, housing and clean air, and consumers deserve access to information that allows them to make informed decisions about their wireless carriers. I support the FCC's transparency requirements, and strongly urge the Commission to examine the wireless coverage of Hudson Valley, New York to ensure that network carriers are advertising accurate coverage maps. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

U.S. Senator

 

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