Tags Posts tagged with "Coverage"

Coverage

Senator Chuck Schumer is taking wireless network companies to task for poor service in areas of Long Island. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Frustrating dropped calls, undelivered text messages and slow loading web pages may soon be a thing of the past on Long Island if one U.S. Senator has anything to say about it.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) submitted a list to wireless carriers of more than 200 ‘dead zones’ for cellular service on Long Island Aug. 25. The list was accumulated by Long Island residents identifying areas where frequent lapses in service occur to Schumer’s website over the course of several months. North Country Road in Port Jefferson and Setauket, Main Street in Northport, Route 25 in Smithtown, Shore Road in Mount Sinai and Hawkins Avenue in Stony Brook were among the North Shore locations residents pegged for spotty service according to a press release from Schumer’s office.

Infographic by TBR News Media
Infographic by TBR News Media

“When it comes to cell service on Long Island, these dead zones are proof carriers need to —quite frankly— raise the bar,” Schumer said in a statement. “A heavily populated region like Long Island shouldn’t be home to over 200 dead zones. Just a stone’s throw away from New York City and home to several universities, thousands of businesses and more, Long Island’s cell phone coverage must remain uninterrupted. Now that Long Islanders have submitted critical dead zones locations to my office, our wireless carries must make sure they are fixed. I will share these locations to carriers and am urging them to come up with a solution that meets the needs of both Nassau and Suffolk residents.”

Spokespeople from wireless carriers T-Mobile and AT&T did not respond to requests for comment regarding Schumer’s list. Andrew Testa, a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless’ northeast market, deferred questions regarding the Senator’s list of dead zones to international nonprofit CTIA — The Wireless Association, who has represented the wireless communications industry since 1984. CTIA spokeswoman Amy Storey declined to comment on behalf of any of their members, which include Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

One company addressed Schumer’s concerns.

“Sprint is committed to making sure Sprint customers have a great experience on our network and we’re investing to improve our coverage and reliability on Long Island,” company spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said in an email Aug. 26. “We share Senator Schumer’s goal of better service for Sprint customers and look forward to working with him to enact legislation that will reduce barriers to network deployment.”

Norton added that more Sprint cell sites, or towers should be expected on Long Island in the next nine months, which should improve service.

Schumer said lapses in cellphone coverage could create dangerous situations if GPS technology fails, and could deter business owners from setting up shop or tourists from visiting Long Island if problems persist. He called on wireless companies to come up with solutions to alleviate the issues.

by -
0 1542
The Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Company serves Port Jefferson, Belle Terre and Mount Sinai. File photo

Village officials have blocked the local ambulance company from billing residents for service, three months after an explosive debate on the practice.

A few residents argued during a Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees meeting in November that it was unfair, after paying ambulance district taxes, they received bills for ambulance rides when their insurance companies either denied a claim or left them with a hefty deductible to pay. But the board insisted such bills were not the intention of the plan enacted several years ago to help their emergency medical organization recoup expenses.

Faced with rising costs in the ambulance district — which includes Port Jefferson, Belle Terre and Mount Sinai — the board authorized the Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Company to bill patients’ insurance companies for service within their jurisdiction, using the collected funds to offset ambulance taxes.

The bills being sent later on to patients, according to PJVAC Deputy Chief Rob Stoessel, originated because his group and its third-party billing company are obligated to ask for the balance if the insurance does not cover the entire cost. In November he described the requirement as a “good faith attempt.”

Before insurance, the fee on a call for emergency medical care is $900, with an additional $18 for each mile the ambulance transports a patient. Stoessel said that amount takes into consideration both medical and nonmedical expenses like gasoline.

Both he and Mayor Margot Garant agreed that when the billing program was created, the idea was for patients to receive three notices for bills, with no consequences for not paying — as the ambulance company does not have a mechanism for collections.

“The insurance companies, God bless them — collect every nickel from them,” Garant said in November. But “we didn’t want the resident to be pursued for any of the fees.”

Residents who received the bills complained that wasn’t common knowledge, and they were concerned about their credit ratings.

Monica Williams was denied Medicare coverage for her treatment.

“I don’t really think that any village resident … should be looking at a bill like that,” Williams said in November. “It’s surprising. It’s disappointing.”

She called it “being billed for the same thing twice.”

But Williams saw a solution on Monday night, when the Board of Trustees voted to ban the ambulance company from billing residents.

The previous law that allowed the company “to bill, directly, village residents for the use of its ambulance services … is hereby rescinded,” according to the measure members approved at their meeting. It also forgives all unpaid balances currently hanging against residents.

PJVAC will still be able to collect funds from the insurance companies.

Garant said there would be consequences “if we hear of any resident getting any more collection documents from the ambulance [district].”