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Verizon Outages (Benton County)

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OutPost

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After a few storms passed through our area last week (08/11/06) the entire county of Benton County in West Tennessee has had intermittent Verizon service. As of today (08/14/06) they hope to be in full operational status, according to Verizon. I'm curious as to what the exact problem was. I hear Tulsa, OK is laying-off 1500 Verizon employees...anything similar in Tennessee?

The old saying goes..."You don't know what you got till it's gone" created quite a problem for law enforcement in this county, having to talk openly on frequencies.

I thought it was just my equipment at first, since I could not get online (Verizon) and my cellphones also attached to outside antennas were giving me between one bar and nothing. The computer requires a minimum of 2 bars to get online, which is in the 1500mhz range. I was constantly looking at red antenna indicators, thinking my antenna had water collecting at the base plate outside. An outside antenna is necessary out here.

I checked everything and then thought that maybe my computer was messed-up, but kept noticing the cellphone tested on two antennas continued to show one bar to zero.

Then.....the Sheriff's Department and the City of Camden continued to complain about no cell service.

My conclusion was that all cell towers for Verizon at the Exit 126 North 40 Truck Stop area were on minimum power, or limited channel capability, along with the two cell towers in town!

I could tell that my one bar signal strength on my cell, must be coming from Humphreys County across the river, but not enough for the computer. I also noticed that during non peak times at the truck stop, when drivers are not down for lunch, dinner, or rest, the signal power would jump from green to red to green quickly, and it was necessary (still) to keep my finger on the connect button to grab a channel.

When that was (is) accomplished, I immediately have to open "Channel 4's Desktop Weather" from Nashville to get the Doppler Radar rolling, which in-turn keeps the cell connection going. If not connected to any type of self-updating weather, the signal goes dormant and that's it! Then I have to wait for a trucker to finish his laptop work. (no pun intended).

Hopefully today, Verizon will have it all back and running. My cellphone is giving me occassionally, 4 bars down to one now. As far as the 1500mhz so far, I am not taking the chance, and will stay connected today.

Are there any other counties out here with similar problems? I also heard THP with repeater antenna problems in the area over the weekend. I guess lightening did a job on something common to both THP and Verizon towers?

Dave
 

Thayne

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I think they are phasing out the older 800 meg cell sites, and a lot of rural areas will suffer for awhile or maybe permanently unless a lot of people complain.
I know they are doing that in in Colorado where I am. They turn them off and assume the higher freqs will have the same coverage and they don't.
 

OutPost

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You may have hit the nail on the head, but does THP repeater problems at the same time have anything to do with this problem? Does THP have their antennas on cell towers in Tennessee? It appears to be related to a lightening strike...and we had plenty of them last week.

Dave
 

jalexand69

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OutPost said:
You may have hit the nail on the head, but does THP repeater problems at the same time have anything to do with this problem? Does THP have their antennas on cell towers in Tennessee? It appears to be related to a lightening strike...and we had plenty of them last week.

Dave
Since I'm not familiar with THP and Verizon repeaters in this area, I can't be sure, but three possibilities come to mind:

1. Power outages in the area. I'd hope that the THP would have emergency back-up power, but it might require someone to physicially go to the repeater site and start up a generator. And then power might have been at reduced levels until commercial power was restored. I don't know whether Verizon would have backup power at their repeater sites.

2. If lots of cloud to ground lightning occurred, then it's highly possible that enough Verizon and THP antennas might have been hit to disable the antenna, feedline, or even worse, radio equipment. In the case of the latter, however, lightning arrestors might have been thrown, and that would almost require a technician to come out get the system back up. According a retired state police communications director I know in Missouri, radio techs today do NOT like to work evenings or weekends.

3. I doubt if Verizon and the THP would share antenna space, but I don't know. Plus, atmospheric conditions around the lightning storm might have interfered with reception/transmission. I haven't been following the sunspots, but they and geo-magnetic storms can really mess up VHF and higher communications.

Slightly off-topic, but I hope that Verizon does not go to PCS in Tennessee. I get good reception wherever I travel, mostly the Memphis area and US 64 corridor to Lawrenceburg. I've never lost a signal, even around Waynesboro. PCS might be good in an urban area, but I'm leery of it working in rural areas unless they dramatically increase the number of repeater sites (ever notice how Sprint and T-Mobile have virtually no native coverage in rural Tennessee, Missouri, and other areas?). j c
 

OutPost

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West Tennessee
Verizon

jc

Thanks for that insight....

THP technician was communicating on the following Monday with Jackson, and they resolved their issues. That same day, I received a call from Verizon to ask me if I was still experiencing problems.

He had me check my signal strength on the cell phone attached to a Wilson antenna on the roof, which I had a full signal. He then had me check my connection on broadband and that was OK, but still not up to par. As of this week, I have excellent signal strength and availability.

I asked the technician what the problem was, he said he didn't know, and he could not confirm if Verizon had a technician in our area. Sounded a bit odd to me....

Verizon was definately on reduced channel capability and virtually no cell phone channels, but a few broadband channels. My cell phone was receiving and transmitting in Humphreys County during those days, about 20 miles away in one direction and maybe 15 to New Johnsonville.

I also noticed that Verizon has a type of reserve channel for broadband, since when this was all down the drain for service, I was able to immediately access support. I had good signal strength for Verizon Support, and that signal had to be coming from the nearest affected tower, but for normal use....forget it!

It had to be a common problem that affected both THP and Verizon towers from the interstate to Camden. Lightening did a job on something.

I would hate to think they have control over your internet use, but with the cell phone signal gone, I doubt that was the case.

Dave
 

jalexand69

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Location
Joplin, MO
Thank goodness both the THP and Verizon have been working on their problems. I bet an external antenna works wonders on your cellphone. I've heard it said that during times of peak usage and/or limited cell reception that SMS will often go through with no problem. I don't know the ins and outs, but I think it has something to do with a special reserved channel exclusively for data.

Both Tennessee and Missouri are dinosaurs when you speak on HP comms. Both still rely on low-band FM, supplemented with some extenders in VHF. In fact, Missouri has special waivers from the FCC to run at 1500 watts PEP! They're keeping their fingers crossed on 700Mhz for preliminary studies show no adjacent UHF TV channels surrounding the state.

I see your Skywarn avatar, and I should be active in it. I worked with ARES a lot in Missouri and have checked into a few TN nets whenever I've been in storm areas. j c
 
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