Oregon Country Fair works to improve cell service

Matthew Long of Veneta said he had to complain to his provider to get a boost for his signal, and many residents are upset.

Posted: Jul. 16, 2018 6:41 PM

VENETA, Ore. -- The Oregon Country Fair is working to improve cell service for fairgoers and nearby residents.

Charlie Ruff with the Oregon Country Fair said this year they were able to work with all major providers to provide a better cell phone experience. They brought in portable cell towers called Cellular on Wheels or COWs to help boost signals and take the strain off local towers.

“The folks at T-Mobile were just saying that not only have they increased the ability here on site with this COW,” Ruff said. “But in town, they've doubled their pipe bandwidth for what they can handle with in terms of capacity.”

Ruff said there were still times when the system was overwhelmed. Matthew Long of Veneta said he had to complain to his provider to get a boost for his signal, and many residents are upset.

“My mom's phone, she goes through Verizon, and she wasn't getting a signal, not even able to make phone calls, and she has leukemia, and that could be a major detriment,” Long said.

Ruff said calls to 9-1-1 were not impacted by the cell service outage because they take priority over all other calls. Ruff said next year crews will be putting up COWs earlier, and they will keep them up longer.

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