Hard-to-find signals send cell users scurrying
Appeal Staff Writer
Just south of Virginia City, there’s a spot off Highway 342 where government affairs are discussed, building plans debated, and relationships are soothed.
The dirt lot between the Nevada Department of Transportation maintenance yard and the telephone building is one of the few places around Virginia City where commuters can get wireless phone reception.
“Everyone stops there and talks,” said Linda Broman, who works in the Gifted Cowboy shop on C Street. “I drove by my brother recently.”
Broman can’t make a call out of her hometown with her Cingular wireless phone unless she seeks out one of the spots where the bars are, and she doesn’t mean the Bucket of Blood Saloon. She finds reception in the middle of C Street, or at the Virginia City gas station.
“Either you can’t get the bars or it just rings and doesn’t connect,” she said. “So, you have to see what number comes up on the caller ID and then go to a land line and call.”
The story is similar but even more painful for Gary Jackson of Stagecoach.
“I can stand in one place and not move my phone and it will change from analog to digital, so whoever I was talking to, I’m not anymore,” he said from his land line.
When on his camel ranch in Stagecoach, Jackson’s Verizon phone jumps between the analog wireless tower to the newer digital towers, which causes the phone to drop calls, often from customers who want to come out for his riding trips. Other times, the call won’t come through at all.
“I’m out on the ranch combing my camels and feeding my camels and I’ll get a call to my cell phone, which is in my pocket, and it’ll go straight to voice mail,” he said. “I won’t get the message sometimes for an hour, sometimes the next day.”
Jackson can’t break his contract or he’ll get charged up to $200. He has a year of his plan left.
“Then I’m gonna go look and see if there is something better out there.”
If there are enough complaints, another tower will probably be erected, said Thin Air Communications store lead Jessica Allen. The rurals are slowly getting coverage by digital towers. Until then – all customers, no matter what provider you have – will likely get wacky wireless reception.
“As more people go out to the rural areas there will be more cell towers,” Allen said.
Which may not be good news to those seeking the rural environment.
But in Carson City, her Sprint wireless phone gets all the bars.
— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.