Cruise passengers hog cellphone bandwidth in Haines, Skagway, residents say

From the Chilkat Valley News: Haines and Skagway aren't complaining about hosting cruise ships every summer. There's money to be made from the passengers, after all. It's the poor cellphone service when a cruise ship docks that's really bugging them lately -- and, oh yeah, that six-hour outage the other day. They're asking AT&T Alaska what can be done. The company is promising improved service but won't give a specific date. In the meantime, don't disconnect your landline, Haines Mayor Stephanie Scott tells residents.

Haines resident Judy Erekson noticed that her Internet and her cellphone service have been spotty on cruise ship days. The phone dropped calls, wouldn’t reach her voicemail and gave a busy signal when she tried calling people. ...

Erekson also said her daughter tried calling her on a ship day from a store’s landline, because her cell phone service was not working.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have had problems on ship day,” Erekson said.

Like Erekson, Judy Heinmiller has a cell phone that uses the 314 prefix and said she had trouble on cruise ship day, including being cut off during a conference call. “It goes through second try, it seems.”

“Cell phone service really sucks in the morning and then again about four o’clock,” said Heinmiller.

Andrew Colley, AT&T Alascom’s personnel representative in Anchorage, said problems with his company’s service may be linked to the presence of the cruise ship. “AT&T’s network in the area is optimized for the population which resides in Haines. Cruise ship stops in Haines are infrequent but may result in network congestion when they occur.”