Cell phone service throughout the Vineyard is spotty, as it is on Chappy.
A Chappy committee and town hall staff have worked to attract proposals from cell service providers since 2011. A proposal was finally received about four months ago and was tentatively accepted by the town. It proposed a cell tower up to 180 feet in height, visible from almost everywhere and on one of three sites—any of which were close to many homes. But the construction would be dependent upon at least one carrier committing to a lease. No carrier had committed or come here to scope it out.
Some members of the Chappy Community urged the Selectmen to award this contract. They felt that as a practical matter we should simply take what was available. Word got out and 90 letters in opposition were sent to the Selectmen, compared to ten in favor. The Selectmen convened a committee of five and gave them July and August to determine whether or not there were realistic alternatives.
The committee has had weekly meetings. Last Friday they spent five hours on Chappy with Verizon’s Director of Operations for New England. Verizon is the country’s largest service provider. During this meeting he agreed to find the funds to put together a minimally intrusive DAS (distributed Antenna System that uses existing power line poles) plan for Chappy that will be available for implementation as soon as his annual budget can cover this. His annual budget is upwards of $350 million. It answers the Selectmen’s question as to whether or not any option other than a tower might be available.
Meanwhile a number of houses on Chappy have found that their cell service can be significantly improves with a $200 device called a Zboost. This has worked in 5 of 7 situations that I know of. If your house has some reception now, most likely a Zboost device will improve it. The committee will continue to develop its report for the Selectmen. We will try to keep the CIA membership aware of what happens.