Mystery on the mountain: What happened to cell reception on Mt. Lemmon?

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Mystery on the mountain: What happened to cell reception on Mt. Lemmon?

By Marcelino Benito. CREATED Jun 4, 2013

MOUNT LEMMON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Fires, snowstorms, car accidents, even drownings.

"Anything can happen," said Charles Hitner.

We've seen it all on Mt. Lemmon. It's why your cell phone is your lifeline.

"It's an obvious safety matter," said Hitner.

And for years it worked for everyone on the mountain including residents, firefighters, even rescuers until November 2012.

"Just to have it chopped off," said Hitner. "We got not explanation from T-Mobile, that would have been nice."

So here's what happened. Commnet Wireless runs the cell site on Mt. Lemmon. That site worked with T-Mobile frequencies. It's what helps you get the connection. But in November, T-Mobile canceled those frequencies. Without those, the tower doesn't work and you can't use your cell phone.

"Because of you I know something now, that's really appreciated," Hitner said.

So why weren't neighbors notified? And why did T-Mobile cut the frequencies? The company's response Tuesday night about as good as reception on the mountain. Judge for yourself. In a statement, a spokeswoman writes:

"T-Mobile previously had an agreement allowing its customers to roam on Commnet's network.... The company never provided its own coverage in Mount Lemmon, and we cannot guarantee coverage in all areas.  T-Mobile and Commnet do not have an immediate solution that would restore roaming coverage in this area."

"This is purely business," said Hitner. "It's such an obvious wrong. Surely someone will come out of the woodwork to help put the buttons together to make this work again."

But for now, homeowners much like their phones are still searching.

Major Cell Phone Carrier Contact Info:

AT&T -  (800) 331-0500
Verizon Wireless - (800) 922-0204
Sprint - (866) 866-7509
T-Mobile - (877) 296-1018