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Many in Mott frustrated by lack of cell service as network switch continues

Mott residents are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they are calling AT&T's empty promises of better cellphone service in the area.

Though AT&T bought an estimated $150,000 tower that was built in 2009 by Alltel, it stands unpowered on the edge of town, said Alex Carey AT&T Corporate Communications for Minnesota and the Northern Plain.

He said the site is not active because it is being integrated into AT&T's network.

"The process takes about 18 to 24 months," Carey said, adding the company is changing the type of network it is using, incorporating the site into AT&T's local coverage model, acquiring the funds for the changes and other aspects of the integration process.

He expects the project to be done by the end of the year.

"Mott residents are not very happy," Mayor Troy Mosbrucker said. "We have a tower sitting in our backyard -- it's actually a block behind my house, and we still don't have (cellphone) service.

"You couldn't get any closer."

When he tries to make a call it doesn't go through or he gets a message that says emergency calls only, he said.

Mosbrucker said he knows about the companies funding shortage.

"If a big company can't come up with that (the money), what kind of company are we dealing with?"

Mosbrucker said city employees all have AT&T as their cellphone service provider, but the cellphones don't work.

There are other cellphone service options in town, Mosbrucker said.

Mott resident Joyce Hinrichs said she too is upset with AT&T.

"We have been waiting for a long time for service," Hinrichs said. "When you live in a rural area like we do, cellphone service is heavily relied upon and not being able to make or receive calls when you very well could be is very frustrating."

Dale Zich of Mott also said he is frustrated with AT&T's lack of service.

"I've called numerous times about when they expect the tower to be done," Zich said. "And I've asked what they are going to do to improve service in the meantime but have always gotten the run around."

Carey is confident that work is progressing.

"We continue to work on it, and work on it daily," he said. "All of these changes to the cell site are slated to be completed on time, if not ahead of schedule, and advance AT&T toward our goal of providing outstanding connectivity to our customers."