COLONIE, N.Y. (News10)-We all know and dread them: Cell phone dead zones. If you live, work or drive around the Town of Colonie, you’ve probably dealt with poor cell phone coverage and dropped calls. The town supervisor says it’s not just an annoyance, but also a public safety issue and he’s now making some headway on a fix.

Lori Kunker, the director of 911 for the Town of Colonie says her dispatchers frequently deal with dropped calls and poor reception while trying to help members of the public. “We have to try to call back. Or they are trying to call us back. So, it does take time,” said Kunker. And this can happen while trying to determine if weapons are involved or if someone is in need of rapid response due to a medical condition or accident.

“I’ve made it a public safety issue. And I continue to believe that it is,” said Peter Crummey, a former town judge and now town supervisor. Crummey has created the first ever local law streamlining the approval process for wireless companies to obtain work permits for the installation of small “cell nodes” on existing poles and structures in the town. He describes them as looking like “cans on top of telephone poles.” He says the cell nodes can boost a wireless signal 2000 feet in every direction. The supervisor told News10’s Anya Tucker that Verizon has the biggest challenges with dead zones and that the town has granted several permits to the company for the cell nodes, along with approval for a new free-standing tower to be installed near Bonded Concrete on Watervliet Shaker Road. 

For a while now, the dispatch center in Colonie has been utilizing free online mapping services to locate people whenever there’s a dropped call, but they are looking forward to the future enhanced cell service and connectivity. “I am very happy. It’s very important to us to help the people that live here” said Kunker.

As for a timeline for when the work will begin, Crummey told Anya that he was told that it would begin this month. However, Verizon Public Relations Manager Andy Choi tells News10 that no date has yet been scheduled. Choi sent this statement: “We are excited to be working with the Town of Colonie to connect more customers to Verizon’s network. While a specific completion date has not been set, rest assured our teams are working closely with various partners to build out and make these important connections as quickly as possible.”