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AT&T: Boosters to blame for problems with service

Can you hear me now? How about now?

Cellular customers have been saying those words a lot lately in the Dickinson area, along with receiving text messages hours after they were sent.

The problem -- which seems to be primarily with AT&T customers and which cleared up considerably Tuesday -- may have been caused by signal-enhancing devices sometimes used by private parties and businesses, according to a statement from an AT&T spokesman.

"We know in some areas third-party elements, such as boosters or repeaters, cause signal interference and negatively impact wireless subscribers on our network," said Alex Carey of AT&T in the statement. "Where we are able to identify the source of the interference, we work diligently to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers."

Boosters and repeaters, also called bi-directional amplifiers, can be used to enhance cellphone reception, though some types of BDA devices have not been approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

A number of Dickinson area cellular customers have complained this month of poor reception, dropped calls, delayed text messaging, data outages and disturbances to home security systems that run through cellular networks.

Verizon Wireless spokesperson Karen Smith said the carrier is "fully operational in the Dickinson, N.D., area for voice, text and data usage." AT&T and Verizon are the two main wireless providers in southwestern North Dakota.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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