Officials call for better cell phone coverage in St. Lawrence County

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, New York (WWNY) – Recent cell phone service problems in St. Lawrence County have officials there calling for better coverage. But, that’s easier said than done.

When Ronald Burke isn’t working as the superintendent of the Canton School District, he serves as the chief of Madrid’s rescue squad.

As chief, one issue that has him worried is the lack of cell service in St. Lawrence County – so-called dead spots – especially when the caller has an emergency.

“Even within Canton, we have our pockets. It’s that proverbial last mile where getting that kind of connectivity is difficult,” he said.

Last week, Burke received reports from area residents about disruptions in their Verizon cell service. Burke says this issue was extremely worrying because if an emergency had happened and the network didn’t work, there would be no way that emergency services would have known.

“The person on the other side of the phone not being able to communicate and what the actual emergency is, to me, that’s a huge concern,” he said.

St. Lawrence County Legislator Margaret Haggard is working on improving broadband and cell coverage around the county but says there are hurdles with this process.

“These carriers are really missing out and we have to keep pushing to make sure that what happened a week or so ago doesn’t happen again, because that does leave gaps in our ability to get to people in an emergency,” she said.

7 News asked Verizon about the recent disruption. In a statement, it said: “Our network engineers worked hard to pinpoint and resolve a recent issue that resulted in distorted audio on calls for some customers in your area. It’s important to note that those customers throughout the issue could still reach 911, as calls were still being connected.”

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