When Jennifer Roybal wants to make a call using a cellphone from her Summer Creek home in far southwest Fort Worth, she has to go to an upstairs bedroom or outside by the pool to get service.
“When it’s really hot or cold outside, it’s not fun,” said Roybal, who lives on Morning Lane. Worse yet, during a recent business call the line was dropped three times, she said.
“It is horrible,” Roybal said. “Dropped calls, that’s all you get. A text will take forever to go through. I’m so fed up.”
Roybal said she often reboots her phone to do network resets, but they haven’t worked.
Brent Petersen, who lives nearby on Sunscape Lane, is frustrated by the same experience.
Petersen said he can be driving on Old Granbury Road, getting close to his neighborhood, and his call will drop. The neighborhood heard of plans for a new cell tower near Alta Mesa Boulevard. But that’s never happened.
“There’s been many times I’ll tell people to hang up and call me back on my land line,” he said. “It’s definitely a problem out here. And it’s not just an issue for a few people.”
Residents in far southwest Fort Worth are at their wits’ end because using cellphones in their homes is not easy.
Once thought to be a problem for rural areas, dead cell zones are just as commonplace in urban areas. They’re areas where a cellphone signal isn’t available or calls frequently get dropped.
Summer Creek is in far southwest Fort Worth, where ranch land is quickly getting gobbled up by developers, drawn there by the opening of the Chisholm Trail Parkway, which stretches from downtown to Cleburne. Thousands more will be living there in the coming years.
It’s also near where Tarleton State University is building an 80-acre campus, planned for as many as 5,000 students.
Jay White, president of the 320-home Summer Creek Homeowners Association, said that when the issue comes up at the association’s annual meeting, “It gets a chuckle.”
White, who lives on Rain Dance Court, said he’ll drive out of his neighborhood about a quarter-mile before he can get service.
“The thing is, we’re in the main Chisholm Trail corridor,” said White, who now has a micro cell in his home to help with the issue. He has that free because his carrier’s map shows his home in a bad zone. His neighbor also has a micro cell, White said.
“Our coverage is so terrible,” White said.
Fort Worth Councilman Jungus Jordan, who also lives in Summer Creek and complains about sporadic coverage, recently called on city staff to see what they can get done to solve the issue in the southernmost reaches of his district.
“I’ve been to AT&T myself,” Jordan said. “I told them we need another tower. We want to see strong cellphone coverage in southwest Fort Worth. These are issues we’ve had for some time and we’ve tried to resolve them.”
Jeannine Brew, a spokeswoman with Verizon in Dallas, said the carrier has a cell tower about a mile from the Summer Creek neighborhood, which is in sufficient range for service.
She said Verizon was unaware of the issue until the Star-Telegram called. They are looking into it and encourage Verizon customers to call to see if the issue is perhaps as simple as upgrading software on a phone.
“We don’t have very many customer complaints on record,” Brew said of Summer Creek.
She said Verizon last year invested $1 billion in equipment and technology to improve service statewide.
In an email statement, AT&T said the company works hard to give its customers the best possible network experience.
“We value customer feedback and continually make enhancements to local network coverage, including adding LTE capacity to cell sites in the south Fort Worth area this year,” the statement said. “In the past three years, we’ve invested more than $6.8 billion in our Texas wireless and wired networks.”
The dead zone issue hasn’t been a problem with the southwest Fort Worth residents getting through on 911 calls, said Abigail Dudek, Tarrant County 911 District spokeswoman. If anyone feels it might be an issue, they need to contact the agency, she said.
Deadcellzones.com says there are about 100,000 dead cell zones nationwide. The website features maps where consumers can place a pin where coverage is bad. The map shows the southwest Fort Worth neighborhoods with several pins.
Deadcellzones.com said it estimates that 50 percent of U.S. homes do not have seamless wireless coverage.
“Studies claim that almost 50 percent of customer service complaints are related to poor service complaints, yet carriers fail to provide customers with easy ways to share their local problems,” the website said.