Troublesome Cell Towers - NBC 7 San Diego

Troublesome Cell Towers

Mexican wireless company launches with same spectrum band as Verizon, impacting thousands along U.S. Mexico border.



    Cell Phone Border Battle

    NBC 7s Consumer Bob shares one woman's cell phone service battle she is currently facing due to a new wireless operator in Mexico. (Published Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019)

    Mobile customers using Verizon Wireless continue to experience spotty cell service in parts of San Diego County due to interference with new wireless operator in Mexico, Altan Redes. The company launched wireless service last month on the same spectrum band as Verizon.

    Summer Floria works from her San Marcos home.

    “I’ve always gone with Verizon so that I could have good coverage and always talk to my clients,” Floria told NBC 7 Responds. “But, for the last month or so, reception has been awful.”

    NBC 7 first reported the issue on September 5. Since, discussion of poor wireless coverage has spread along the U.S and Mexico border as far east as Texas, according to a spokesperson from the Federal Communications Commission who shared a letter from FCC Chair Ajit Pai to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. 

    “It was a shock to learn at the eleventh hour that Altán unilaterally decided to turn on its network at a time and in a manner that would directly and foreseeably cause harmful interference to U.S. cellular carriers and their customers who rely on them on a daily basis,” Pai wrote. “Once we learned of this, we immediately contacted and shared the limited information we had with all domestic carriers potentially affected by Altán’s initiation of service, as well as the State Department.”

    But the acknowledgement means little for people such as San Marcos’ Floria. She said she contacted Verizon when her phone stopped ringing.

    “We got so many reasons why we were not getting service,” said Floria.

    “Verizon would not admit to anything really, they just said they couldn’t cover my area as great as they had before.”

    Floria reached out to NBC 7 Responds. We contacted Verizon. Floria said she got a call from an executive from Verizon not long after who admitted the dropped coverage is caused by the interference from Mexico.

    Unfortunately, said Floria, “Verizon has no time-frame for a resolution.”

    The company did send Floria an “extender” to use inside her home.

    “The extender improves coverage in our home, but not outside of our home. Also, the extender has more cords for us to control, but at least we do not drop calls in our home and I can work seamlessly again in my home office,” said Floria.

    NBC 7 Responds contacted Verizon to ask what customers can do if their wireless signal loses strength.

    “A wireless operator in Mexico launched service along the border recently in the same spectrum band as Verizon,” wrote the Verizon spokesperson. “This is causing interference for some of our wireless customers - especially those closest to the border.”

    The company stated it has “added capacity” to its network.

    “We apologize for the inconvenience,” wrote the spokesperson. “We are working with the FCC to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

    Verizon said customers should contact the company if they are experiencing a loss of signal.

    The FCC would not comment on the specific issue, other than sending the letter from Chair Pai to Senator Cruz. 

    In a September 6 statement to NBC 7 Responds, a spokesperson for Altan Redes wrote the issue is “between countries and not between carriers so it is a topic for the government agencies. 

    "In any case, Altán is deploying and operating its network in strict compliance with the obligations of its concession and the radiation protocols in force with the United States.”

    SD Cell Service Possibly Affected Operator MexicoSD Cell Service Possibly Affected Operator Mexico

    NBC 7's Alex Presha spoke to a North Park woman who's having reception problems because of something going on in another country.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019)