Great News! Cell Service Further Expanded
California State Parks finally interconnected the Verizon Tower located in Salt Point and lit up Friday, July 23, 2021. You can now get at least one bar of cell phone service on Highway 1 between The Sea Ranch and Timber Cove. It’s reported that may even get up to four bars of service in places!
Consequently, this will assist first responders’ communications in a formerly radio dark area. Furthermore, it provides people in distress with a means of communication. It will also help to diminish the digital divide that continues to plague many rural communities.
Specifically, the new tower replaces a 120 feet telecommunications tower with a 180 feet tall telecommunication tower. The project site is located in the maintenance yard at Salt Point State Park in Sonoma County. Verizon Wireless will be a tenant to the State of CA acting by and through the Dept. of General Services and with the consent of CSP. The new tower would consist of a 180 feet lattice structure engineered to support Verizon’s equipment, State Park’s equipment, with available space for additional potential commercial leases.
AT&T Cell Phone Service at Sea Ranch
Previously in 2015 we celebrated the arrival of the Moonraker service tower of AT&T located in The Sea Ranch came online in 2015. It expanded service for its customers along a significant portion of Highway One. Its power stretched from a point about one mile South of the Stewart’s Point/Skaggs Springs Road…
to the southernmost point of Gualala Regional Park.
Most of Sea Ranch and parts of Gualala/Anchor Bay are serviced by Verizon Wireless (other services usually do not work). It is important to remember that cell phone service nonetheless remains spotty along our coast.
|Photo by Jon Klein: Irish Beach between Elk and Point Arena|
Impact on Coastal Communities
Sadly the Western coastal area of Sonoma County continues to lack strong cell phone connectivity in its regions. The lack of a seamless universal service further complicates the situation. Verizon makes its service available in some areas, while ATT offers service in others. Carriers cannot claim seamless universal service to West County. The new service now online in Salt Point will hopefully provide a greater range for cell phone users.
More Work Needed
WhileVerizon continues to improve its service footprint in West County gaps in coverage still exist. In short, additional tower sites are needed along the scenic Highway One corridor.
Accordingly, we share from Sonoma County’s website the following Coastal Communities digital divide issues:
To illustrate the critical need for connectivity, the community of Bodega Bay endures with little or no wireless cell phone connectivity. Comcast and ATT provides broadband service with little or no wireless cell phone connectivity
Previously it endured very limited and slow DSL having it introduced to the community by Verizon. We hope with the new tower lifts up the Community from being underserved by state definition as speeds fell far below state minimums of 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up.
Jenner, Cazadero, Joy Road, and The Sea Ranch
Until now, four communities have been identified to be prioritized by the California State Public Utilities Commission. The goal is to be considered for broadband infrastructure expansion and funding. There are over 130 communities in the state within this tier of escalation and not sufficient funding available to correct the situation in all communities. The state Public Utilities Commission analysts are evaluating each project in order to establish a ranking for funding.
To illustrate, the community of Valley Ford relies only on either dial-up or satellite for individual connectivity – yet ATT supplies their Central Office with fiber.
Kashia Band of Pomo’s
The Kashia Band of Pomo’s has one T1 line at $400 per month supplying their Rancheria Headquarters and one T1 line at $400 per month servicing a school with 9 students. Satellite service is unavailable due to trees and mountains obstructing a window to the sky.
Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley
A transmitter tower to the line of sight locations provides to many areas wireless (over the air) connectivity. Subsequently, the speeds vary depending upon location, terrain, and weather conditions.
Joy Road Homeowners Association
Lastly, the Joy Road Homeowners Association, just southwest of Occidental relies upon a WISP (2 Mbps) for a line of sight service. Those without a line of sight rely on satellite (if a window to the sky is available), expensive cell phone tethering (if the signal is adequate), or dial-up. Unfortunately, maps falsely show the areas being served.