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AT&T deception could cost lives

by Bill Stephens | Metro News Chicago
Updated 8:18 p.m. CT - Saturday, 22 July 2017
Verizon vs AT&T
Verizon cell tower at Shadow Hill Ranch
Verizon installed a permanent tower at Shadow Hill Ranch. (Photo: Bill Stephens)

AT&T promised to provide auxiliary cellular service to Shadow Hill Ranch during Country Thunder Music Festival. The company never kept that promise even after several Facebook private messages ensured Metro News and the public at least the placement of an HSPA or AT&T Remote Mobility Zone (ARMZ) trailer on the grounds.

Metro News has been requesting the ARMZ be available because many attendees and news teams use AT&T as their carrier. There is absolutely no coverage on the ground at the ranch. What's even more peculiar is AT&T's coverage map indicates there are hardly any areas of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin the communications giant doesn't cover. Their online and printed coverage maps are fraudulent and an illegal misrepresentation of services AT&T absolutely has not provided in the five years MNN has covered Country Thunder.

Besides convenience, AT&T was gently and politely reminded that in the event of an emergency, anyone with AT&T would not be able to even call 9-1-1 for help. So, why were we promised things would be different this year and then we get no reply from anyone at AT&T when we inquired? Is this AT&T's idea of professional and reliable service? Why should anyone continue to pay the amount of money we give to AT&T each month and not get a reply to basic requests?

Just where is that money going to? What are AT&T fat cats doing in their ivory towers each day? Do AT&T execs even realize or give a damn that the company as a whole is simply refusing to provide even temporary service to rural area events such as Country Thunder. And how embarrassing it must be for concert promoters to have to tell people that they may or may not be able to reach loved ones from the road while visiting Twin Lakes, Wisconsin? Is there some reason AT&T won't or isn't able to do this?

The following are excerpts from a Facebook conversation between Metro News and AT&T regarding the service request. This proves someone at AT&T promised cell service for 2017 that was never delivered. Please note, we started this inquiry in July 2015. Two years later, nothing has been done to remedy the situation.

22 JUL 2015
Bill Stephens: 5:31 p.m. Wireless cell service. I am experiencing low signal strength and as the use increases due to over 50,000 people concentrated in the area it becomes impossible to make or receive calls. This is an annual event and needs to be addressed for safety reasons.
AT&T: Hello, Bill. I understand how upsetting this service concern could be. Believe me, this is definitely not the type of way we want you to be feeling about our services. We always strive to provide the best possible customer service experience and give accurate information to our customers. If you allow me the opportunity, I will be more than happy to make things right for you. We truly care about your happiness with our services, we are sorry to hear you had a bad experience but here I am to help you out and change your perception! -Juan V. Social Media Spclst.
5:51 p.m. CT I can definitely understand concern with this matter
7:48 p.m. CT - She had spoken with Tech support. What number can you be reached at?
8:07 p.m. CT My cell phone # is ______?
9:35 p.m. CT Is it ok to call you now?
8:49 p.m. CT BILL - Sure, I'm available... (The rep called Bill and spoke with him for about 15 mins.)
One year later...
21 July 2016
Bill - 9:42 a.m. CT Still having coverage issues.
AT&T 10:40 a.m. CT - Hi Bill, I can definitely understand the concern with this matter. Have you already attempted to use our AT&T mark the spot app, to provide us with info and details regarding your service concern? Check it out here: http://soc.att.com/1ynEiGZ . You cal also private message us the details, along with your account and contact info if further assistance is needed. Thanks- Lincoln S. AT&T Social Media Manager
Bill - 10:45 a.m. CT: I have complained numerous times about this in the past and this is my last attempt to get your attention and action before I start to post about this publicly. Tomorrow starts the Country Music Festival, Country Thunder in Twin Lakes Wisconsin. Your wireless coverage there to put it bluntly SUCKS. .. I have requested for public safety that you bring in reinforced cellular coverage as there are as many as 50,000 in attendance at any given time including full time camping. Verizon does it, why can't you. I have been an AT&T customer forever and because of this deaf ear approach you have taken I am having a difficult time considering remaining a customer.
Bill - 10:48 a.m. CT - I have spoken with tech support and engineering as this is not just a festival issue in this area but an overall coverage issue. I feel this should be escalated and addressed in the next 24 hours as the festival starts in less than 24 hours. I am sure you have disaster recovery trailers that are not in use that can be dispatched to the festival and should be. I would hate to see Verizon out perform AT&T again.
AT&T 11:00 a.m. - Bill, what information was given to you from our tech and engineering group regarding the coverage in that area? Please provide me with your account information. Thank you. -Tiffany B., AT&T Social Media Manager
Bill - 11:05 a.m. - My cell # is _______. I was told that they would look into it. Twin Lakes WI is just north or Richmond Illinois and east of Genoa City Wisconsin. Genoa City has always been a virtual no coverage area, my phone barely works outdoors only ( 1 or 2 bars ) and I can only guess that the nearest cell sites are miles away. AT&T provides wire-line service in this area and your wireless service just doesn't work like it should. The residents of Genoa city use other carriers because of this. Some are even talking about moving because of lack of services (yours being one of them).
22 July 2016
Bill - 9:00 a.m. - Still having coverage issues at Country Thunder music festival in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin
AT&T - 9:34 a.m. - Hello Bill! We would be happy to assist you! Please provide us with your service (WIRELESS, UVERSE) etc. and more information into what you are experiencing with your coverage. Ron H-Social Media Specialist Wireless cell service.
Bill - 9:50 a.m. -I am experiencing low signal strength and as the use increases due to over 50,000 people concentrated in the area it becomes impossible to make or receive calls. This is an annual event and needs to be addressed for safety reasons
AT&T - 10:01 a.m. Good Morning, Bill; We'd be happy to get this looked into for you so we can do all that we can to get you a stronger connection. Please provide through private message your account and contact information so we can assist you. Thank you, Alesha R - Social Media Specialist
Bill - 10:03 a.m. - I don't have my account number, however my cell number is _________. I have this discussion with AT&T every year. You need to send out your disaster trailer to reinforce your network during this festival. My company is getting tired of getting temporary phones from another carrier that does reinforce their network during this festival and are now considering changing carriers because of your lack of response
AT&T - 10:05 a.m. - Thanks for the phone number Bill. We totally understand the frustration with having poor cell service at a event. We will look into this and figure out what we can do to make it better. Thanks for reaching out and if you have any other questions or concerns please let us know. - Erin B Social Media Specialist
AT&T - 11:00 a.m. = Hi Bill - plans are in place to boost coverage during next year's event. Thank you for bringing this to our attention! - Ashley P.
Bill - 11:05 a.m. -Juan Have you read the entire thread where Ashley P committed to bringing your disaster trailer to the festival to reinforce your network in much the same way that Verizon does every year?
18 July 2017
Bill - 3:35 p.m.I was just on the Country Thunder festival grounds and I only see Verizon equipment. Nothing is visible from AT&T. Am I to assume you are not going to keep you word and reinforce your network?

Metro News Chicago never received any sort of reply to instant messages and direct e-mails from AT&T engineers and executives. We can't be any more clear about this message. Shame on you, AT&T, for not even having the courtesy to reply to us or the thousands of customers that want answers also!