Monterey residents welcome cell service by AT&T


MONTEREY -- Cellphones are finally ringing in Monterey -- although not everyone in town is connected yet.

The cellphone silence in town was broken several weeks ago following the construction of a cell tower on the west side of town, which began serving AT&T customers along portions of Routes 23 and 57. The service also extends along Blue Hill and Monument Valley roads.

However, residents reliant on other carriers like Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile remain in a dead zone.

"We don't have any confirmed interest yet," said Todd Bowman, of Florida Tower Partners, which built the cell tower.

The Bradenton, Fla.-based company built a tower capable of serving five carriers. AT&T is the first carrier to start using the cell tower with the possibility of others also coming.

Prior to this year, cell reception in Monterey was spotty at best and nonexistent in most cases because there were no operating cell towers in town.

Service could improve from current levels in the coming months for AT&T customers, Bowman said. He said the telephone company has approached Florida Tower Partners about adding additional equipment that would increase the number of customers that can be served at the same time in the current service area.

"If you have a lot of people in one service area on at once, they might not have the fastest service," Bowman said. "By adding additional equipment, then [they] would have faster service."

Monterey Selectwoman Muriel Lazzarini -- an AT&T customer -- said the few that have benefited are excited.

"It doesn't cover the whole town, but I am on the other end and I get two bars," Lazzarini said. "It's very exciting for many people because they've waited a long time."

The coverage could extend beyond AT&T sometime in the future.

Bowman said no other carriers have approached him about using the tower, but he was optimistic that a deal was inevitable.

"We think it's a matter of time," Bowman said.

T-Mobile customers could have to wait longer, Bowman speculated, because the company's attention is probably on its merger with MetroPCS.

To reach John Sakata:

or (413) 496-6240.

On Twitter: @jsakata


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