Jackson area loses Verizon Wireless cell service
The problem stems from a contract issue between AT&T and Verizon.
At midnight Sunday, Verizon service went dead to areas like Virginia City, Jackson, and Lima.
No calls in, no calls out, and no 911 service.
Representatives from AT&T and Verizon blame it on an expired three year roaming contract, and that AT&T shut down the technology Verizon phones use to communicate.
Verizon customers in Jackson have been with out service there since the beginning of the week.
People in Jackson said they are upset after AT&T unexpectedly shut down cell service a few days ago, leaving residents, local law enforcement, and business owners wondering what to do.
Local rancher Dean Peterson said, "one day we have service and the next day we don't."
Peterson said they had no warning whatsoever about the loss of service. He and other people in town said they don't know what they are going to do now about their phones.
Peterson explained, "when you've already got a track phone with 1,000 minutes on it, you don't want to throw that away."
The lack of service is not just affecting residents. Jackson Fire Chief Kyle Malkovich told us it is also affecting safety.
"It slowed down emergency response," Malkovich said, "because due to government narrow banding, we don't have great radio communication out here, so we rely on them a lot."
The Montana Highway Patrol also relies on Verizon. They are stationed in Jackson during the Rainbow Family gathering.
Captain Gary Becker explained, "our in car computers run off Verizon cards. By not having the air cards, it limits our ability to communicate with dispatch and also run license plates and drivers licenses."
While we were in town, we ran into a private contracting company hired by Verizon to put in a temporary tower. They said the tower should bring service back to the customers.
That would be a welcome relief for everyone.
"I hope we get it back soon," Peterson said. "I really do!"
We checked cell phone coverage regulations with the Federal Communications Commission.
There is no guarantee that your phone will work in any area, even if it is included on a wireless service provider's published coverage map.
Coverage can frequently change for different reasons.
When it comes down to making emergency calls, the FCC does permit service providers to exclude areas, but they must report changes within 30 days.