AT&T ‘monitoring’ network performance for Rockdale

Reporter Staff Writer

AT&T officials do confirm they have placed an apparatus atop a water tower at the Alcoa Rockdale plant, but still gives no time line as to when cell phone customers will get back reliable service.

“We are evaluating options to enhance coverage in the Rockdale area. In this regard, we recently launched 2G service near Alcoa Lake that we expect to upgrade to mobile broadband service before the end of the year,” Briana Gowing, with AT&T Media Relations said last week.

For the past nine months, area AT&T cell phone customers have had little to no service near Rockdale. Late last year, a company whose Rockdale area tower AT&T had been using by contract for its “roaming services” cut its ties and no longer allowed AT&T use of that tower for cellular service.

Only other tower within a 25-mile radius with an AT& T node is located in Milano and it only offers one “node.”

Around the 2012 holidays, customers calling to complain were told this was a SIM card issue rather than a tower problem.

At the beginning of 2013 AT&T representatives said work was to begin on a new tower in the area but did not provide a time line.

Months ago, AT&T leased space on top of a water tower at Alcoa’s Rockdale O perations. T hat i s where the equipment Gowing referred to is placed.

STILL UPSET—After a story on the problem ran in the Sept. 19 Reporter, staff members have fielded several phone calls from AT&T customers who still want the “when” answered.

Sandy Turner, who lives in Rockdale but works for the Texas Department of Public Safety in south Austin, said the lack of cell service at her home is keeping her from doing her job.

“I am on call all the time and it takes me until I get to Taylor to get service,” Turner said. “I am just wondering how many other state employees who live in this are affected.”

EMERGENCY PROBLEM— Milam County Homeland Security/ Emergency Management Coordinator Susan Reinders said that if disaster was to happen and those customers who only have cell phones and not home phones would be delayed in getting important information.

“We use First Call, which is like a reversed 911 system. If you have not registered your cell phone then you won’t get that information,” Reinders s aid. “ For t hose AT&T customers who don’t have service, we’d have to call on the Rockdale Volunteer Fire Department to get out with bull horns in residential areas to get out the information.”

AT&T still cannot give a time line when, or if, service will get back to full capacity.

“We will continue to monitor network performance in the area, and apologize for any inconvenience to our customers,” Gowing said.

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