Verizon promises improved service locally

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Dec 06, 2017 - 12:02 PM

Photo: At-large supervisor John Meyer Jr., left, received a resolution Tuesday night commending his service to the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors over the past four years from board chairman Phillip Bazzani. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

At-large supervisor John Meyer Jr., left, received a resolution Tuesday night commending his service to the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors over the past four years from board chairman Phillip Bazzani. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Verizon Wireless customers who have noticed an uptick in the numbers of dropped cell phone calls around the Gloucester area over the past year should see an improvement in the coming months.

Gloucester County Administrator Brent Fedors gave an update to the county’s board of supervisors Tuesday night during its meeting in the colonial courthouse on what is being done to address the issue, which has been a growing concern among many county residents who rely on the company as their cell phone provider.

According to Fedors, Abingdon district supervisor Robert “JJ” Orth initially asked him to look into the specifics of why so many Gloucester Verizon Wireless customers’ cell phone calls were being dropped in areas that they had never experienced the problem before. Fedors, along with Garrey Curry, Gloucester’s assistant county administrator, sat down with Timothy Dykstra, director of engineering and operations for Verizon Wireless, who said the company is aware of the issues and is working on resolving them.

Fedors said Dykstra explained that one of the main reasons customers have seen a reduction in service calls has to do with the increase usage of the 4G LTE unlimited data plan. 

“He said the company had about $10 million in infrastructure investments in Gloucester over the past three years, including four new tower sites,” Fedors said.

Fedors reported that one new tower in the area of Short Lane near Gloucester High School is expected to come online this month to help support LTE, data and voice.

He said Verizon’s push to change from 3G voice to enabling voice over LTE further congested the LTE network. Wireless users using Samsung and Motorola devices saw this change last year while iPhone users noticed the change more recently.

Fedors said the Dykstra explained a quick solution to the problem could be for users to go back temporarily to data only over LTE, not voice over LTE, as Verizon expands its network.

One of the areas that Fedors said he received direct complaints about was the Gloucester Department of Social Services office, which is located on Short Lane. “Their service has been very inadequate,” he said. “However, the Short Lane tower should directly address this.”

According to Fedors, Verizon has plans for four additional antennas on already-existing macro towers in the county over the next three years, which should address other areas where users are experiencing dropped calls.

One site, he said, will be in the Ware district. Two others will be in areas along Hickory Fork Road and another near Figg Shop Road. These are expected to be up and running by early 2019, Fedors reported.

“We’ve had a very positive response from Verizon,” Fedors said. “They are listening and are doing something for their customers in the county.”