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RANT: Presley’s Union County Task Force, some hope at last

Task Force Brandon Presley's Union County Task Force on Rural Connectivity will meet Thursday in New Albany,

People in New Albany and Union County have long suffered over-priced and under-performing internet and cell phone service. Now they have an opportunity to start doing something about it.

Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley will host a meeting focused on solutions to those problems at Union County Courthouse at 7 p.m., tomorrow, Thursday, August 9.

It will be the first meeting of Presley’s Union County Task Force, which will work to improve cellular telephone and high-speed internet service. The public is invited.

“Rural Mississippi has an infrastructure crisis in the lack of cellular telephone service and high-speed internet service. Mississippians are sick and tired of paying for a service that doesn’t work or being told that providers have no intention of serving their areas,” Presley said. “That is unacceptable to me and through the help of these citizen task forces, we are going to highlight this problem and demand answers.”

Many residents of rural Union County contend with cellular telephone service that often ranges from poor to none-at-all. Hi-Speed internet service for rural residents, if available at all, is prohibitively expensive.

Even within the New Albany city limits cellular phone service is rarely great and is normally spotty and inconsistent. During recent months we have heard many complaints from the cell phone customers — Verizon, AT&T, CSpire, etc. — that their service got noticeably worse during the spring.

Customers go into the stores of their cell phone providers and complain that the service has become even less reliable that usual. The response they typically get from the cell phone company personnel is one of pretended surprise. They will act as though it’s the first they’ve heard of it.

I first started using cell phones in 1990, while I was living and working in Montgomery, Alabama. I still have the first one, pre-digital and long obsolete. By today’s standards, it’s a real analog antique: a big heavy handset that mounted on the dashboard of the car, a steel-to-steel antenna on the car roof and wires running to a black box about the size of a big dictionary which was hidden under the back seat

During 28 years since I got that first clunker, I’ve probably used 15 different cell phones and half-a-dozen cell service companies. For the last ten years or more, my service has been with Verizon. I must say that Verizon has given me the best service I have ever had, outside of what I have experienced in big cities.

However, few months ago my Verizon service went to the devil. I had one “bar” or none at all on the same iPhone, in the same places in New Albany, where I had previously had three or four “bars.”

On June 16th, a Saturday, I walked into a Verizon store and dealt with a very nice young lady. She very forthrightly acknowledged that she had many recent complaints from many customers. She checked my phone to be sure it was okay. It was.

Then she called Verizon customer service in Outer Mongolia (or wherever), and she and I waited nearly 30 minutes, listening over and over to the “all-of-our-representatives-are-busy-helping-other-customers-we-appreciate-your-patience” message.

Finally a living breathing man came on the line. He was possibly better trained and more experienced than the nice young woman trying to help me in Mississippi: he admitted NOTHING. After 10 or so minutes, he transferred us to another customer service rep, supposedly somewhat up the food chain. The second guy hinted that it might be a fiber optics problems and said he would have it checked out.

During the rest of Saturday and through Sunday I got four or five text messages from Verizon of the nature: “we are working on the problem and will get back to you.”

Then at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 18, Verizon sent me a text to which a video was attached. It runs a for 87 seconds and features a young millennial gentlemen in a T-shirt. Maintaining a generic little smile on his earnest little face the entire time, he made the following speech to me:

“Hello. Thank you for taking the time to report your service issue to us! This short video will help to educate you on your resolution and the options available to you!

“We’ve investigated your concern, and though Verizon has the nation’s best network, we found that the signal strength in your reported area is less than optimal. This can lead to weakened and reduced network connectivity, especially indoors. l

“No need to worry, however – because Verizon has several options available to make sure you get the highest quality service in these situations! Here are a few steps to try:

“If available, you can enable HD Voice, which provides even better call quality over Verizon’s LTE network. With HD Voice enabled, you can also enable Wi-Fi Calling, an amazing way to help boost call quality securely whenever you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.

“HD Voice and Wi-Fi calling are your best options for improved service, and we make these amazing features free in order to ensure you always get the best possible service.

“Or, if your device is not HD Voice or Wi-Fi Calling capable, we also offer Network Extenders for sale that could enhance the voice coverage in a specific location, and they can work with multiple devices!

“For more details about these three options, or for troubleshooting resources, our online Troubleshooting Tool offers a comprehensive list of device solutions that may resolve your concern!

“Thank you for your time, and thank you for being the best part of Verizon!”

That’s it, word-for-word. Read it carefully. Essentially what the boy said is, “Yes, we have a problem, but it is up to you to solve it.”

I haven’t yet got around to providing my own solution to Verizon’s admitted service problem.

The Verizon service I was previously proud of is still lousy.

I’m hoping Brandon Presley can help me. He’s very smart, persistent, and energetic.

I will be there at the courthouse tomorrow. If you are not happy with your cellular phone service or your internet service, you be there too. August 9, 7 pm, Union County Courthouse.

For more information on the Task Force:

1 Comment on RANT: Presley’s Union County Task Force, some hope at last

  1. Robert Hays // August 10, 2018 at 7:10 PM //

    I see all of these ads about getting better phone and internet service. all I see from these ads is people wanting to get better service for free. there is excellent service on satellite for internet and also phone service is very good depending on how much you want to spend. i see so many people wanting this country to become socialist and finally communist. no one can disagree since they want something for nothing. and Brandon Presley is just promoting his dimwitted democrat party policies of helping enslave the country by trying to make people believe that they should have the best service for little to no cost. well someone will have to pay for it whether the customers that are getting the better service or others and I shouldnt have to pay higher taxes for anyone else to have the same service I have and I pay the higher prices for better service.

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