AT&T rolls out 4G cellular in Nome

AT&T has brought 4G LTE cell phone coverage to Nome. (Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM)

AT&T provided its Nome customers with a 4G network at the beginning of this month, after years of preparation. Despite the improved coverage, more local support for AT&T customers won’t be included in the upgrade.

According to Shawn Uschmann, AT&T’s Director of External Affairs for Alaska, the company has invested more than $150 million in network upgrades throughout the State between 2014 and 2016.

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When asked why a 4G network was instituted just recently in Nome, Uschmann answered, “AT&T launched 4G service in Nome to improve the customer experience, and with these investments, our customers are going to see increased reliability, coverage, speed, and overall performance on the network, and that is definitely something they are going to see in Nome.”

Uschumann continued, “These investments also improve critical network services that we use to support public safety and first responders throughout the state of Alaska, specifically in Nome.”

Through the use of existing infrastructure, a 4G network was established in Nome without building a separate AT&T tower. Uschmann said the 4G project involved AT&T employees from multiple Alaskan locations as well as several contractors.

“This was a big job for us,” Uschmann said. “It’s going to be a game changer, we think, for Nome when the customers see the increased data speeds and get to experience that in real time; we hope it’s happening right now. We really look forward to hearing from our customers and what those experiences are.”

Some citizens in Nome have already reported issues with their phones since 4G was turned on, such as more frequent dropped calls or a bad connection between them and whomever is on the other end of the line.

Uschmann said customers can call 611 from their cellphone or a national customer support number to report any issues.

“Again, this is the same call center that handles calls nationwide for AT&T, so we’re comfortable with the level of support that they’re going to be able to provide, and we think the customers in Nome are going to be pleased with the experiences they have calling in to those numbers,” Uschmann stated.

According to Uschmann, AT&T does not release information about the number of customers it covers in a given area, so it is unknown how many people have AT&T service in Nome. Regardless, Uschmann stated via email that AT&T will not bring in additional staff to the community as the company can monitor the performance of its network remotely.

Currently, a small team of AT&T representatives, including Uschmann, is visiting with its local partners such as Kawerak and the City of Nome for the day.

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Davis Hovey is a news reporter at KNOM - Nome. Hovey was born and raised in Virginia. He spent most of his childhood in Greene County 20 minutes outside of Charlottesville where University of Virginia is located. Hovis was drawn in by the opportunity to work for a radio station in a remote, unique place like Nome Alaska. Hovis went to Syracuse University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Broadcast Digital Journalism.

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