Phone service issues plague Gasconade County

BLAND, Mo. - In March, ABC 17 News covered AT&T cell service issues in Maries County. Customers there were losing calls and had no 4G service in the area.

Similar issues have started to plague Gasconade County customers.

Gasconade County Sheriff Randy Esphorst told ABC 17 News the county's AT&T's service has degraded dramatically within the last couple of weeks.

Deputies working in Bland have experienced little cell service, if any.

Esphorst said the internet has been affected, as well. At times, deputies have had to leave Bland to log in to their computers.

The symptoms are the same as in Maries County. Dropped calls and inability to make outgoing calls.

Esphorst said this can be a big safety issue when it comes to dialing 911 in the southern part of the county.

Sergeant Tom Dodson also spoke with ABC 17 News, and said the outages were noticeable about 4 weeks ago when 911 services were compromised when calls could not get through.

Dodson noted that customers in Gasconade County are "paying for 4G service when they're only getting 2G."

Both Esphorst and Dodson called the AT&T help desk this week, and got two different answers about the loss of service.

Esphorst said the representative told him, "there is 'junk' on the towers" and that it would be "remedied by Tuesday."

When Dodson called Thursday, a representative told him that there was not a problem with the towers in the area, and AT&T was not working on any towers in the area.

The representative also told Dodson that if enough customers from the area complained about the service losses, the company would consider putting up a new tower in that area.

ABC 17 News reached out to AT&T and a representative explained that there is no reason for an outage in southern Gasconade County other than the fact that there are not as many cell towers.

The representative said the closest towers to Bland are in Belle and Owensville, causing service to be reduced in parts of the county.

ABC 17 asked if there are plans to build another tower in the area.

The AT&T representative said the company bases the need for tower coverage on population density. More densely populated areas will have more tower coverage. That representative echoed what was told to Sergeant Dodson. He said the more calls the company gets from customers in Gasconade County, the more the company will look into considering a new tower.

The representative said AT&T customers could download the app called "Mark the Spot" on their smart phones to log the location where they're experiencing poor or no service.  

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