SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Many San Diego-area Verizon Wireless customers may have to wait a while longer before service issues that coincided with the launch of a new wireless service in Mexico will be fully resolved.
In August, numerous Verizon customers -- many who live in areas close to the U.S.-Mexico border -- told 10News about issues with dropped calls and slow internet speeds.
A Verizon representative confirmed the problems, telling 10News in August: “A wireless operator in Mexico launched service along the border recently in the same spectrum band as Verizon. This is causing interference for some of our wireless customers -- especially those closest to the border.”
10News learned the Mexican company Altán Redes launched its service on Aug. 19, using the same 700 MHz spectrum band being used by Verizon Wireless. It is believed the band usage has led to the service problems on the U.S. side of the border.
Jackie Metcalf said she’s been a Verizon customer for 30 years. She’s among the many locals who are frustrated because the once-reliable service is no longer reliable.
“It’s a problem. I’m a real estate agent, so I need my phone. I keep getting error messages,” she told 10News.
The issue not just affecting the average customer. A Chula Vista Police Department spokesperson told 10News’ Jeff Lasky that the Verizon problems are having a negative impact on department phones and their ability to use their innovative drone systems.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai prior to the service launch, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz voiced concerns over the impact Altán Redes’ service would have on wireless users in his state.
Cruz was worried that the matter “will likely adversely affect hundreds of thousands of Texans living along the United States-Mexico border …”
The Texas senator went on to say that he believed Altán Redes’ service “can and will cause harmful interference to existing U.S. networks, including those used by federal and local law enforcement, the U.S. military, local governments, and other sensitive and important users.”
Chairman Pai responded with a letter to Cruz, stating that he had spoken to his Mexican telecommunications counterpart regarding service interference in the U.S. and assured the senator that the issue was being addressed.
However, Pai pointed out that Altán Redes made an “eleventh hour” decision to “turn on its network at a time and in a manner that would directly and foreseeably cause harmful interference to U.S. cellular carriers and their customers who rely on them on a daily basis.”
An FCC spokesperson did not offer any further comment on the matter.
In an updated response, a Verizon spokesperson said the company did not have an update on any potential solutions to customers’ service problems but noted that they are working to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
An Altán Redes spokesperson issued this statement to 10News:
"We wish to point out that the situation experienced in the border is caused by the activity of the United States mobile carriers in the 700 MHz band spectrum interfering ON the Mexican side (them radiating service into Mexico), as Altán is not radiating its service signal into the U.S. territory. Altán is deploying and operating its network in strict compliance with the radiation protocols currently in force between both countries.
In any case, the issue is one to be settled between government agencies. Altán will comply – as we are doing today – with any revision of the protocols agreed by the Mexican and U.S. authorities, if such revision occurs."