Survey reveals urgency of cell issues in North Country
13Investigates is learning the results of a survey on cell signal affecting North Country residents. From small Stony Creek, Warren County to busy Colonie, 13 Investigates has been covering issues with cell connection.
In 2023, 13Investigates covered the small community of Stony Creek, Warren County. There, cell phone service is almost non-existent. When there’s a storm and the power goes out, so does the internet. It can take days to return.
Senator Dan Stec (R – Queensbury) told 13Investigates at the time that he’d be surveying neighbors to learn how cell signal affects their lives and what they want to see. Now he is sharing the results of his inquiry.
“My staff gets a lot of calls about cell service every day,” Stec said.
His district includes the Adirondack Park.
Stec asked five survey questions to the more than 37,000 people living in the Adirondack Park. Just under 2,000 people responded, or just over 5% of people who were sent the survey. Respondents showed they care about cell signal.
One question asks residents to label how important cell signal is. A group of 89% labeled the issue “very important” to them.
“The one thing that jumped out at me from the survey results was just how many people only have a cell phone today,” he said.
13Investigates introduced you to neighbors in Stony Creek, who say they feel left behind and in danger due to lack of cell signal.
Stec told 13Investigates he partly blamed strict regulations on cell tower construction in the Adirondack Park for the lack of signal there.
The park is overseen by the New York State Adirondack Park Agency, or the APA. The agency said at the time of 13 Investigates’ reporting on Stony Creek, it had not denied any telecommunication projects submitted in the communities surrounding Stony Creek.
Stec asked neighbors to weigh in on policies limiting cell towers. One question asked whether the APA should update its zoning policy for cell towers, written in 2002.
A group of 90% of people surveyed said “yes” to the potential of an updated APA policy.
“They accept certain things, say we’re going to be more rural, we’re not going to be as convenient, we’re not going to have the jobs market that an urban area would, so I mean… but they also want cellular service, and they’re willing to say, hey, cell service is more important than making sure that cell towers are invisible,” Stec said.
Another question asks whether respondents would support fewer, more visible cell towers if it results in more reliable cellular coverage. A group of 81% said yes, and 12% said no. In addition, 7% said they are unsure.
The APA responded to the survey results by sending 13Investigates the following statement:
“The APA remains committed to working with all government officials and telecommunication providers to ensure the Adirondack Park has comprehensive cellular coverage in compliance with the laws and regulations the agency is charged with administering.”
For more information about the survey results and how Stec believes it could lead to change, watch the video of Stella Porter’s story.