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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Answer Desk: Last Week's Cell Phone Service Snafu

V.I. Answer Desk: Last Week's Cell Phone Service Snafu

Several Source readers asked what happened to cell phone service last week. Many Sprint and AT&T users experienced several days of no service, days of roaming charges and periods of wavering signals.
To try to find out, the Source first attempted to contact an AT&T representative. But calls to all three numbers listed on the AT&T V.I. website received recorded messages saying "the number or code you have dialed is incorrect." The website itself says it is copyrighted as of April 2010.
Calls to AT&T’s national service numbers lead only to various recorded messages, with no option to speak to a person, although as many menus asked for the user’s AT&T number, it may be that an AT&T customer would have been able to speak to a person.
A Sprint service representative who asked not to be quoted said there had been widespread service outages in the region from July 22 to 24, affecting 40 different zip codes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The representative would not say or did not know what caused the outages. However, the time frame cited covers periods of torrential rain in the region and overlaps with the service outages in the territory.
Choice Communications, a provider of broadband internet services in the territory, uses the same towers as Sprint and AT&T. Choice Chief Operating Officer Wes Throgmorton confirmed Monday Choice was temporarily knocked offline for at least part of the territory last week because two towers were struck by lightning.
"We did have equipment damage from the lightning, but we were able to repair it quickly," he said.
A reader emailed, relating that they had spoken to the manager at the St. Croix AT&T office, who purportedly said the tower at Sandy Point on St. Croix was down last week and after several efforts to get it working again failed, a technician was brought in from Puerto Rico. That could not be confirmed as calls to the local AT&T offices were greeted with error messages.
While the information is not complete, thus far it appears likely that lightning strikes from the past week of unusual weather knocked out cellular transmitters at numerous towers, and different providers took varying amounts of time to repair each transmitter.
The Source will continue to seek more information on the question.

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