The Block Island Times

Verizon looks to upgrade cell service

By Stephanie Turaj | Aug 20, 2013

Members of the Block Island Residents Association (BIRA) Communications Task Force met with Verizon representatives on July 15, and said that Verizon is working to upgrade its cell phone service.

However, the company does not have any immediate plans to upgrade its DSL internet service, according to the Task Group.

“Now everyone is using smartphones,” said Task Force member Bill McKernan, who explained that upgrading cell service is Verizon’s primary focus.

Verizon offers 4G LTE (Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution) wireless on-island. This is a term used to describe the latest technology in wireless service, which provides internet connection to devices such as smartphones. It is faster than 3G wireless, but an individual must have a device that can access 4G.

In addition, the Task Force members reported that Verizon is studying ways to improve cell phone reception on parts of the island — such as the north end — that do not have strong reception — or any reception at all.

“Verizon Wireless is looking at new technologies, such as installing smaller antennas on the island,” said McKernan. According to McKernan, Verizon will be sending out engineers to research where these antennas should be installed. The entire process for installation could take at least a year to implement.

On the BIRA Communications Task Force are island residents McKernan, Jim Hinthorn, Mike Ballard and Norm Topf.

“Concern about service levels on Block Island had been an item on BIRA’s agenda as a result of our service problems,” said the Task Force in a letter to The Block Island Times. “The task force will continue to work with Verizon and other providers to keep the community informed about new or better services and as a conduit between customers and Verizon.”

The Communications Task Force had its discussion with two representatives from Verizon: Michele Cinquegrano, the Regional Director of External Affairs, and Rich Enright, the Director of Engineering of the New England Region for Verizon Wireless.

McKernan also said that Verizon would like to hear from customers when they have concerns, complaints or service outages. Cinquegrano’s phone number is (401) 525-2134.

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