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

Kudos to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for working to improve the quality of life for Long Islanders. He recently submitted a list of more than 200 “dead zones” for cellphones on the Island to both the Federal Communications Commission and to wireless service providers and told them in no uncertain terms to get their act together. Long Island is a heavily populated area, and we deserve better coverage.

Schumer gathered his list of problem spots with the help of folks who know where they are. He established a page on his Senate website specifically for reporting poor service areas and invited residents to provide the information.

Many of us have our own mental catalog of places where our cell phones are useless, and we try to work around those dead zones.

But what if we can’t work around them? What if something happens to us in a place where there is poor service? What if you need assistance right now but have no way of obtaining it?

Sadly, we were not surprised when our requests for comments from the wireless carriers were mostly met with silence.

Just last weekend, we needed access to the many storm bulletins and the latest news in order to decide if we should stay or evacuate as Tropical Storm Hermine threatened our shores.

Our cell phones are no longer just fun accessories. They are necessities that keep us in touch and help to facilitate our lives. So we believe that Schumer is right. It’s not okay for carriers to just woo us with fabulous coverage claims. They must provide service everywhere we need it.

While we think it’s terrific that 200 plus dead zones will hopefully be addressed by the service providers, it leaves us to wonder — what about all the others? As our editorial staff read over the list, we all thought of spots in our neighborhoods that weren’t on the list, but should be.

But this is on us. We didn’t contribute to this poll. As helpful as Schumer’s plan is, it won’t solve the problem unless we too get involved.

We’re sure President John F. Kennedy (D) had bigger problems in mind when he asked the country what it can do for its government. But it fits perfectly in local cases just like this.

Our local government can only help us as much as we help it.

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.