Widow’s Crusade for Better Coverage Results in AT&T Upgrades on 170 Sites

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AT&T purchased cell towers from southern Maine to northern Aroostook County in an effort to increase and improve cell phone coverage throughout the state, as a result of resident Lisa Brissette’s crusade.

Brissette was motivated to act after the death of her husband Arthur on January 13, 2017. She says his death could have been prevented if the region had better cell phone coverage.

The County reported that Van Buren will be the first community in Maine to receive enhanced coverage beginning in spring 2019. According to AT&T, the company has acquired, “nearly 170 cell sites from Northeast Wireless Networks,” and that each site will receive an, “LTE upgrade to improve coverage in the area.” The carrier says the modification will expand its network, and through its collaboration with FirstNet, will “enhance public safety communications in the area.”

During a recent meeting, the widow told Van Buren town councilors how her husband’s truck slid into a snowbank and he could not get a signal on his cell phone to call for help. After the 56-year-old walked up the road about half a mile to find help, Arthur Brissette and a young man pushed his truck out of the snowbank, but then Brissette collapsed and died at the scene.

Lisa Brissette said that unreliable cell service added nearly a half hour to the response time of emergency medical personnel, who were unable to revive her husband.

“Following Arthur’s death, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to make some changes,” the widow told councilors. “I wrote my story and sent it to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and then Gov. Paul LePage.”

Both helped, with Collins assisting Brissette file a complaint with the FCC and Maine Public Utilities Commission and former Gov. LePage helping her contact a public advocate. He contacted several cell phone carriers and found that AT&T was willing to take on a project to improve coverage in Maine, reported The County.

Since Maine approved AT&T working on the FirstNet communication platform in 2017, the acquisition of existing towers and FirstNet partnership will, “significantly improve AT&T’s Maine network and give Maine first responders access to critical, modern public safety resources,” Owen Smith, regional vice president of AT&T Maine, said in a press release. Smith added that he was, “honored to have the ability and opportunity to help with [Brissette’s] mission to upgrade cellular network coverage in Van Buren.”

As for the widow Brissette, “I never backed down,” she told councilors, “and I was very tenacious in my hope of never letting what Arthur and my family endured that day happen to anyone else.”  Comments? Email Us.

January 22, 2019

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