Be prepared for cell connectivity problems in Quartzsite

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

You may already be in Quartzsite for the rest of the winter, or may be heading there soon. But be prepared for cell phone communication problems caused simply by the number of RV snowbirds flocking to this winter haven.

When the snowbirds descend on Quartzsite every winter, capacity is put to the max. Long lines at the LP outlets, no place to sit at McDonald’s, and at the top of the list, a short supply of broadband capacity, at least for folks who rely on Verizon Wireless as a carrier. 

This year has been no exception. As the crowds started making Highway 95 from Parker begin to look like a parking lot, Internet speeds dropped from the usual 15 to 22 Mbps down to the creepy crawly range of way less than a Meg. We tried to ignore it at first, but when you’re tasked with helping to get out the best little electronic newsletter for the RVing public, slow Internet speeds just don’t cut it. 

Finally, we took the deep breath, made sure our celly was fully charged, and dialed 611 to yelp at Verizon’s tech support people. We fully expected a long wait for help, and bless our hearts, we proved to be prophets. It took nearly an hour to wade through the usual “work your way up the food chain, take out your sim card out, put your sim card in, take your sim card out, and you shake it all about,” before finally, finally, getting a support ticket filed. Assured that we would hear back in 24 hours, OK, 48 hours at max, we waited a full 70 hours before calling back and asking again. 

We weren’t the only ones. The great tech support guru of our dreams told us that sure enough, there were “a lot” of open tickets on the same issue. The field guy came out and said, “Yep, there’s a big show in town, we’re at capacity.” After the field guy tweaked the system, we saw dramatic improvements — occasionally seeing download speeds just a bit above a meg. Oddly, upload speeds were dazzlingly fast in comparison, about 4.5 Mbps. 

While not exactly promising relief in the form of a temporary cell tower, our perseverance did see a small reward. The Verizon rep was able to secure us a hefty chunk of change for our trouble thus far, and if they don’t get a mobile tower up, another chunk of change on the next bill. Mind you, she didn’t volunteer to hand over the bucks, we had to ask for a credit. Once asked, it was done speedily. 

Troubled by lousy service, and hunkered down in Quartzsite? If you’re paying for data service, get on that phone and complain. That is, if you can get through on the phone!

photo: © Justin Smith / Wikimedia Commons, CC-By-SA-3.0