New Highland Baptist Church Cell Phone Tower
County response to Verizon Wireless letter to the FCC
This letter was mailed to the FCC on July 10, 2023, in response to letters that citizens received from Verizon Wireless staff addressed to the FCC stating that their cell phone coverage from the New Highland Baptist Church tower has returned service levels to normal and no further issues are anticipated. We will be sure to let you know if we receive a response.
May 31, 2023 update
County staff has been in contact with Verizon wireless staff and is requesting any updates they can share. As of today, Verizon is still collating their information and hopes to have something soon. We are happy to share their update once we receive it. Further, depending on the nature of their update, we may even move forward with a supplemental community meeting but we want to be respectful of your time and after hour commitments. Thank you for your time.
A Community meeting was held at the Highland Baptist Church on May 15, 2023 at 7 p.m. in the church’s gymnasium. The meeting was for Verizon personnel to address Hanover citizens regarding the decreased service from the new cell tower that was built on the church property.
Approximately 120 residents in the area attended the meeting. Russ Chandler and Steve Kephart with Verizon attended the meeting and Russ was the main speaker.
Questions asked, concerns raised:
- This has been a problem for 3 years.
- Can we break our contract?
- Can we get discounts on our bills? We have heard Verizon had provided discounts before for issues.
- Who do we talk to when we have issues?
- I don’t receive texts in my own house from my family when I am upstairs or downstairs.
- We have major concerns from a safety perspective when an issue happens. 911 can’t be called when my phone just says SOS.
- Similarly: I have had to get hotel rooms so that I could use my phone for health/safety related reasons. Who will pay me back for that expense? What’s the answer?
- From a Fox Head resident: I have continuous signal loss in my neighborhood. This statement was supported by another citizen that mentioned the Brown Grove community, Food Lion area, and Craney Island.
- Did Verizon let everyone know about the extender signal reduction?
- Response: No but we should have.
- Can Verizon locate on other towers in the area or get a new area? There is one on Cheroy Road.
- Response: We could and that is something we are pursuing.
- The old tower was struck by lightning. There are no lightning rods in the new tower.
- Customer service needs to be better. I have called multiple times and when I do, there is no record of my previous calls.
- Can we get a meeting with customer service in the room?
- I have to physically change the setting on my phone constantly from the home wifi to the cell signal.
- Is there any interference from Wegmans? It’s a tall building that could be blocking the signal.
- My important voicemail messages are delayed when I have a signal loss.
- Should I get a booster?
- Response: No.
- Thank you for being here. It feels good to be heard.
- This is what good government does so thank you for being here and thank you Hanover County officials for putting this meeting together.
Information provided by Verizon:
- Height of the tower is 15 feet lower than the original because of FAA rules. That was not a Verizon or County decision. The height difference should not affect the service though.
- The new tower has more antennas so there should be better coverage.
- We found a metal wire mesh (to stop bird entry) in the tower that was impacting the signal; installed in February. The mesh is being removed now.
- Network extenders are an issue because your phone is trying to hop from signal to signal. Verizon has scaled back the network extender signals to help mitigate that issue. A solution would be to turn off the extenders if you can.
- G-NetTrack Lite is an app that can tell you what towers you are connected to and other information.
- We are planning on getting a special Hanover contact to assist with calls and concerns.
County map showing known cell reception problem areas:
- At the meeting we asked citizens to add dots and other linework to a map showing where they are having known cell phone reception issues. This is the feedback received at the meeting. The County GIS developed a digital map from this feedback: New Highland Baptist Church Tower: Areas Identified as Lower Signal Strength (arcgis.com)
- Verizon to remove metal mesh from inside tower. Perform supplemental testing. Could take a few weeks.
- Verizon to work on a central location for citizen communication. Training is already taking place and the *611 service should already be going to one location in Verizon.
- Verizon to pursue locating on other towers (maybe purchase other properties for a new tower).
- Verizon to look into customer contracts. Can reductions in bills happen or can contracts be broken with out penalties?
- Another Community meeting could take place depending on the Verizon testing and other internal actions.
- Verizon to create a dedicated customer service number.