NISKAYUNA – When Niskayuna resident Dustin Mitchell tried to make a birthday call to his father this past Thursday, he discovered his Verizon cellphone wasn’t working. He thought it was a transient issue until his phone was only allowing emergency calls the next day.
As of Tuesday, his phone still wasn’t connecting properly. In fact, to receive some text messages and make most calls, he’s been driving five blocks from his home near Grand Boulevard and Van Antwerp Road in Niskayuna to pick up reception. He said his partner and neighbors have been experiencing similar problems. When he went to the Verizon store on Balltown Road, he said employees told him normal reception won’t be returned until the middle of this week.
“A weeklong outage for a critical service is pretty astounding, don’t you think?” said Mitchell, 44, a software engineer.
An employee at the Verizon store Monday referred The Daily Gazette to Verizon’s corporate communications.
A spokesperson said:
“Our recent upgrades to a local network site in the past week resulted in temporarily slower service for some customers in the Niskayuna area, but customers maintained coverage during this span. While these updates are bringing myriad enhancements to our customers, we recognize that some customers may be experiencing temporary growing pains. We strive to keep any customer impact to a minimum as we’re aggressively strengthening the network America relies on.”
It’s unclear how many customers or how big of a geographic area is affected. The spokesperson did not respond to a request for clarification Tuesday.
Niskayuna Town Supervisor Jaime Puccioni on Tuesday said she has not been contacted by any residents about the issue.
As of Tuesday, 38 people had signed a Change.org petition protesting Verizon digging up lawns in Niskayuna to install advanced fiber cable.
In the original response, the Verizon spokesperson added: “Customers in this region will be experiencing enhanced capacity on our 4G LTE and 5G networks in the near future.”
But Mitchell, who works from home, needs service now. He said he’s able to conduct some business via a WiFi connection, but he’s not able to make calls or receive messages carrying a large amount of data, he said.
Exacerbating the situation for Mitchell is that he’s on call this week for work, meaning he’s expected to be available at a moment’s notice.
“It complicates it in that I have to think about where I am and what connectivity I have,” Mitchell said.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.