Cell Phone Meeting in Animas, New Mexico

Attended a community meeting in Animas the other evening.  Hosted by the offices of 3 state senators and a communications official from the Department of Homeland Security, there were about 50-60 people in attendance.  The senators aids discussed the 3 options for communications in the boot heel.

1.  Cell phone towers
2.  Satellite phone service
3.  Ranch radios

The ranch radio system has been tried and the major complaints were, lack of privacy during calls and no available operator during emergencies.  Unfortunately, the ranch radio system relies on volunteers which are not always available.  The satellite phone option which included a discussion of the new AT&T cell satellite phone hybrid did not receive a warm welcome because of the costs involved.  The primary interest was in increasing cell phone coverage around the boot heel and it was argued that everyone has a cell phone in their pocket and as a result of the mobile tower temporarily installed by the Forrest Service earlier this year it should be possible to create coverage for the boot heel.  The aids laid out the reality of the situation saying that even if towers were built (and no coverage study has been done) a cell phone carrier (a private business) must install and maintain the equipment.  In addition, access to a routing cable must be close by to reduce instillation costs.  The break even point, according to one service provider, was 150,000 minutes/month usage.  This translated into a population density of about 20 fold higher than the current density. After the meeting, I spoke with one of the aids and said signal is available up and down the San Simon Valley south of I-10 where I drive with a 3 watt dual band cell phone repeater.  I showed him the Wilson wireless repeater that is used at the Painted Pony Resort and his reply was "is that all of it", and "where did you get it?"  I replied Amazon.  A couple of hundred bucks and 80% of the problem is solved.  Of course it is a bit cumbersome on horseback, nor I would not want to hike with the 12 volt power supply, and I'm sure there are areas where signal is completely unavailable (back in Cave Creek Canyon I do not receive signal) but cell coverage will never be the same as downtown Albuquerque.  But it is possible to improve the situation now, not waiting for others to find a fix.


  1. I missed the meeting so I was happy to read your recap. Thank you for posting a summary. debbie

  2. No problem. Solutions to problems are currently available that make cell service a reality here. It is just a matter of figuring out what works.