Gov. Peter Shumlin (AP photo)
Gov. Peter Shumlin (AP photo)
Tuesday May 14, 2013

PUTNEY -- AT&T customers could see their cell phone service restored as early as this week after Gov. Peter Shumlin pressured the company into restoring service that was abruptly cut off on April 19.

Shumlin, after reading a Reformer article published on May 11, talked to AT&T officials about the problem that left cell phone customers across Putney without service.

The Governor, on Monday, said he had been reassured by AT&T officials that the loss of service was an oversight and that the customers should see the restoration of coverage soon.

"As a Vermonter who calls Putney home, I was particularly concerned that several of my neighbors lost their AT&T cell phone service recently and were frustrated by the company's lack of response," Shumlin said. "It is unfortunate that AT&T allowed this to happen. We have further requested that AT&T provide credits to customers impacted by the change."

AT&T did not return calls Monday.

According to Shumlin the company told him that it terminated a roaming agreement with Verizon for 2G service because it had completed its own towers with 3G and 4G capacity.

The switch over caused some 2G customers to lose service.

Shumlin said some customers could see their service restored as early as Tuesday.

Jim Porter, director of telecommunications at the Department of Telecommunications, said AT&T's problems stem from the equipment the company took over when it bought out Unicel service in Vermont in 2008.

As AT&T is phasing out the older equipment, customers who have relied on the 2G service are being left behind.

"We don't think they realized the problem," said Porter. "And we didn't realize it until we read the article in the Reformer so we helped them realize that. This is a legacy problem for AT&T. Hopefully they are going to take care of it and it will work out for everyone."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.