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Long Island

Schumer dialed into campaign to fix cellphone dead zones

Sen. Chuck Schumer encourages consumers on Long Island

Sen. Chuck Schumer encourages consumers on Long Island and in New York City to report cellphone dead zones on his website during a news conference in his midtown Manhattan office on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Sen. Chuck Schumer has initiated a new campaign to force wireless cellphone companies to fix Long Island’s and New York City’s notorious dead zone spots by asking consumers to report on his website the locations where service is regularly dropped.

“It’s vexing and annoying that in Long Island and in New York City’s most crowded areas, cellphone coverage drops. It drops every time you pass that same spot,” Schumer said at a news conference Sunday at his Manhattan office.

To drive his point home, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was once on the phone with a Verizon executive when he had to remind him that their conversation would be dropped once he reached the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn.

“They say they can fix it, but it never is,” Schumer said. “It’s getting worse.” He said he has been told that there are not enough cellphone towers, or that in crowded populated areas service is sometimes disrupted.

Consumers can report their cellphone dead zone locations and the name of their wireless carriers on Schumer’s website. The data will be compiled into a report and sent to the wireless carriers to be “investigated,” the senator said.

In October, Schumer’s office started gathering cellphone dead zone locations in upstate New York and in the Hudson Valley. A report will be issued in the next several months.

“They [the wireless carriers] should be providing service, especially with all the money we pay,” Schumer said. “Cellphones have changed our lives, and we depend on them. New Yorkers are using wireless carriers far more than landlines,” said Schumer, adding that like any other utility, cellphone companies should be held accountable.

According to a Verizon statement released by spokesman Andrew Testa, in the last five years the wireless carrier spent $3.5 billion in New York City and the tristate area to improve service.

“In 2015, our baseline engineers in the New York City Tri-State Area drove more than 88,000 miles — the equivalent of driving the full length of the Long Island Expressway more than 1,200 times — to test our network,” Testa wrote. “Those findings, along with the feedback we gather daily from our customers, help us determine how we spend the billions of dollars Verizon has invested to provide customers with the most reliable network.”

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