Hello folks and happy Thursday! Today we’re going to provide you a quick update on communications.
Let’s start with cell phones. Service is “ok” in my opinion. Just as it was prior to the storms, AT&T is our best option down here. Verizon doesn’t work well at all, and it never really has. Sprint used to be ok, but according to my friends who currently have Sprint, the service has been very poor over the last few months.
AT&T service works pretty well in Cruz Bay on most days. There are times, however, when it will work one minute and then your phone will say “No Service” the next. This can be frustrating, but it’s all part of life these days. There are also times when you can get a text or a call out, but you cannot access your data using your cell phone. Again, this can be frustrating at times.
I called AT&T the other day after we had a three or so day span where service was pretty awful. The rep asked me to hold so he could check the status of our towers. When he came back on the line, he was laughing. Loudly. “You’re screwed,” he said. Not what I wanted to hear… But he was very nice about it.
According to this rep, all of the towers on St. Thomas at that time (Monday evening) were red meaning they were basically out. He said that two of the towers on St. John were yellow (one near Pocket Money Hill and the other in Chocolate Hole) and were being worked on. He said I could expect better service by Wednesday, and he was right! That was a small victory right there and that’s what it’s all about some days.
Outside of Cruz Bay, there is little to no AT&T service. Coral Bay is still a complete dead zone in terms of cell service. Your phone will say you have AT&T, but you really don’t. The AT&T rep also did not have any information on the restoration efforts out there unfortunately.
(Dear the powers that be at AT&T, Coral Bay desperately needs cell service. Please start working on it. Love, Jenn)
I contacted a PR person for AT&T (who handles the USVI )for more information and asked specifically for her not to send me a blanket statement. Well she sent me a blanket statement. Here it is:
We continue to work hard to restore service to the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Maria, with more than 96% of the population connected again. Our teams continue to face challenges, including the lack of commercial power. In St. John, nearly all sites are restored and teams are working around the clock to restore remaining sites.
Well considering that the majority of St. John does not have cell service, that statement certainly cannot be true. I asked for clarification but received none.
There are several spots on island, however, where you can receive a signal from the British Virgin Islands. This happens in many places along the North Shore, some areas along Centerline because there are now views of North Shore, and out in Coral Bay and the East End. I have a Passport Plan on my cell account, which allows me to use these international towers for $10 a day. The cost is high but it’s necessary some days when I need communication around the island.
So that’s your update on cell phone use. No onto internet…
As of today, there is no hardwired internet (to my knowledge) on island meaning that Viya and Broadband still do not work at any of the homes here. Fortunately, however, the DIRT team has set up several wifi hot spots around Cruz Bay and I believe there is one out near Calabash in Coral Bay. This internet works most of the time. There were some issues around Thanksgiving, but I’ve been told they’ve been fixed which is great news. There is no password for the DIRT wifi, so anyone can log on and use it.
Now let’s talk TV. The only television on island currently is satellite. So if you’re home has satellite, you’re really winning these days. Again, VIYA, the company that provides cable, is out of service. I spoke to them late last week and they said that cable restoration would begin “next month.” Fingers crossed!
St. John has always been a place where people come to unplug. Well now it’s really a place where you’re all going to unplug. At least for the near future. : )
And please know that just because we do not have internet and cable today, that does not mean that we will not have it in March, for example. It simply means we do not have it today. Lots of progress is happening every day. We will keep you updated on all of this folks.
In the meantime, let’s all say a big THANKS because today is the last day of hurricane season. Thank goodness!!