Problems with AT&T service out in the Tri-Valley area of Mono County have diminished since much of the Tri-Valley area in eastern Mono County found themselves without cell service after switching from Alltel to AT&T late last year, but they have not gone away, according to Chalfant community members, including members of the Benton Paiute tribe, many of whom are still without cell service.
Although it has taken more than a month to get a straight answer about what’s going on from AT&T, Mono County District 2 Supervisor Hap Hazard, the supe for the Tri-Valley area, has been pushing AT&T hard to find some answers.
The pressure may finally be bearing fruit. AT&T reps are expected to be in the area this week, actually on the sites of the towers that are the likely source of the problem.
Hazard said he hopes the visit finally solves the problem.
“If this is the case and the crews can simply adjust the equipment [that’s already in place] we should have improved service before the end of the week,” he said in a letter to Tri-Valley residents this week.
“If it requires additional equipment or some other repair then there could be an added delay.”
All this is dependant on good weather, he noted.
So what exactly is the problem anyhow?
It goes something like this.
Far above the small communities at the base of the White Mountains is a mountain called Silver Peak. On top of this mountain is an antenna. This antenna captures the signals that Tri-Valley residents have come to rely on – or it should.
“The signal from a phone in Benton travels to the antenna at Antelope Peak, where it is then transferred to a microwave system and sent to Silver Peak,” Hazard said.
This sounds straightforward, but it’s not, as AT&T crews have slowly begun to clarify, he said.
The problem is that the signal is getting hung up along the way.
“From Silver Peak, [the signal] is transmitted to the Bishop antenna via microwave signal and then transferred to the phone lines. [But] there has been an issue with the signal between the Antelope Peak antenna and the city of Bishop phone lines.
“It is believed that the problem with the microwave signal is on the Silver Peak tower.
And this isn’t all.
“The second problem is in the Chalfant area,” he said. “It is believed to [be caused by] a misaligned cell tower antenna on Silver Peak. The antenna is pointed slightly in the wrong direction to be fully functional and capture the weaker cell phone signal.”
A crew was supposed to be out at the Silver Peak site this week, with an update from that due as soon as possible, he said, possibly by the end of the week, he said.
That doesn’t mean the problem will get fixed that quickly, depending on what they find up there, but it might, he said.
He noted that customers who have lost service might be able to “negotiate a discount or waiver on your bill.”
”AT&T customer service and repairs does have all the complaints that have been filed. They clearly know they have problems in our area.”