No bars, no signal? Cell phone service major problem on Mt. Lemmon

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No bars, no signal? Cell phone service major problem on Mt. Lemmon

By Marcelino Benito. CREATED May 22, 2013

MT. LEMMON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - When you travel up or down Mt. Lemmon, you may not know it, but you're suddenly, on your own. It happened to Charles Hitner.

"We thought, hot dog, it's going to work," said Hitner. "We get it up there, and it doesn't work."

Just like that you're smart phone, pretty much turns into a dumb phone. No bars, no signal, no service. No way to get help.

"Most people assume there's cell phone service, that's not the case up here," said Mt. Lemmon Fire Chief Randy Ogden.

What Ogden is trying to say: cell service up here stinks. It's virtually non-existent. 9OYS went up and down the mountain to check it out. The only way to reach help is one emergency phone at milepost 19. That's it. When we tried our cell phone, we couldn't reach 911.

"It's like someone has pulled the plug on that whole tower," said Hitner.

There are towers up on the mountain. 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito called the four major carriers: T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. They sounded surprised by the problem. Although we're told by customers, they shouldn't be.

"We were talking to someone in India, and we weren't getting answers," Hitner said.

Poor cell reception is something Mt. Lemmon fire fighters have been working to address for months. They say this isn't about convenience. It's about public safety.

"In a medical emergency, minutes count," said Ogden.

So right now, should emergency strike, homeowners and anyone on the mountain can only pray for a signal and hope someone answers.

"I mean if you don't have emergency services, what the heck are you going to do," said Ogden.

All four companies did get back to 9OYS. They say their technicians are looking into this. Stay with 9OYS as we continue looking into this story.