Cell Phone Service and Brooklyn Heights: An Update

Thanks to the lovely folks at AT&T (and to my incessant whining), I was provided a nifty and futuristic MicroCell device that works like a mini cell tower in my apartment to boost the signal on my phone (and hopefully not cause all kinds of cancer). While my phone now displays four bars at most times, it’s not infallible and dropped a call last night. But unlike my pre-MicroCell existence, reception was excellent prior to said dropped call.

As for improving service for people who do not live in my apartment, AT&T’s Ellen Webner said the company is “readily aware we need to enhance the coverage.” She emphasized that service issues in New York City are not for lack of funding or resources. “New York City is the top priority of the entire company as far as wireless coverage and performance,” she added.

But it’s not as simple as merely building a cell tower to improve the signal; AT&T actually has no towers in the city, relying instead on equipment placed on the rooftops and sides of buildings. Getting co-op boards and landlords to agree to install this equipment can be tricky business, especially in a historic district like Brooklyn Heights.

To that end, AT&T has ways of camouflaging the equipment so that it blends in with the architecture.  “We have antennas on the Flatiron Building in Manhattan,” said Webner. “But nobody would ever know.”

She owed that there is more traffic on the AT&T network than ever before, but that they are making aggressive changes to ensure better results for customer. To their credit, I have noticed that my iPhone now works much better in Manhattan than it did last year.

It remains to be seen how and when cell phone service in Brooklyn Heights will improve, if at all. AT&T insists they are working on the problem in the area, and maybe in time the signal will improve and we can all dance together in the streets while making millions of uninterrupted cell phone calls. For now, however, my advice for the afflicted would be to get your hands on a MicroCell, and hope for the best.

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  • AEB

    Am I missing something? (OK, no cracks, please). Why use ATT for cell service if to get it in the nabe you need what amounts to a second, extraneous antenna?

    And why diddle at all with ATT reps who of course will represent the problem and its resolution in the most sanguine light?

    Just switch your carrier to Verizon!


  • http://www.ortizfitness.com Brooklyn Personal Trainer

    Verizon has gotten better than AT&T.

  • Arch Stanton

    Yeah, Verizon does have better coverage but they don’t have the iPhone…. Once ATT’s exclusive with Apple expires, they’ll lose half their customers; at least here in the North East…

  • http://loscalzo.posterous.com Homer Fink

    True. I barely use my iphone as a “telephone” … too many dropped calls.

    Never thought my mid-90s bag phone would look good in comparison.

  • http://stevetm.com Steve

    How oh HOW can I whine enough to get one of these things from AT&T? That’s what I need to know! I drop calls the second I turn onto my block on State Street, and have to hold my phone out the window to send a text message. How did you do it?!

  • Dan

    In case you haven’t seen this video, you should. It sums up the “I need an Iphone” argument quite well (and humorously).

    (warning – may not be safe for work…).

    I would agree that the iphone is probably the “best” phone available, but the newer Android phones on Verizon and Spring have done a great job closing the gap. In my opinion, they difference between the Iphone and the Android phones (Incredible, Droid X, EVO) is too small to compensate for the headaches of AT&T.

  • Julie Kanfer

    Steve- call AT&T! Tell them the whole story, and that you want a MicroCell free of charge. Don’t stop until you get one! The woman I spoke with told me the company would be happy to accommodate people in Brooklyn Heights.

  • Rick

    Julie, I’m guessing that you mentioned that you are writing about AT&T here to get them to give you one?

    I have been talking to AT&T for over a year about how I have no signal in my home for my iPhone, they have reduced my rates at times, but now they have told me they will no longer do that. I then asked them for a microcell (about 3 weeks ago) and they said I would have to buy it myself.

    I just called and asked again, and the supervisor I spoke to (Vanessa) denied that ANYONE ever gets one for free. And she did so in a tone of voice that was clearly angry!

    And I should mention that I couldn’t have been nicer talking to her, explaining how I’ve been a loyal AT&T customer for over 30 years and how I really want to stay with AT&T, and if they would give me a credit to my account, I’d go and buy it today. And that I would walk around telling everyone how happy I am with AT&T! But she said “Sir, it is the policy of AT&T that we do NOT give away microcells”. When I told her I had read about just that in a number of places, she asked (again in an angry voice), “Where exactly did you read that?” I told her I didn’t have that information in front of me at this time. She repeated that it was impossible.

    I used to defend AT&T, but I am now very unhappy with them, as you might have guessed!

  • RJ

    Can you recommend best mass transit route from 42 St Grand Central to Williamsburg waterfront?