WKYT Investigates | Cellphone dead zones

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There are cell phone towers all over the state, but there are more towers in the more populated areas of Kentucky.

So what about cellphone dead zones -- those areas where you constantly lose reception? Kentucky has plenty.

"The majority of the complaints today are coming from people who are in rural America," explained Jeff Cohn, founder of the website www.deadcellzones.com.

Cohn has more than 60,000 complaints on his site. He said 5,000 to 6,00 people visit the site daily. Hundreds of those complain about trouble spots with their cell signals.

"I would say the majority of consumers just want a reliable call that doesn't drop," he said.

Cellphone carriers could add more towers, but Cohn says that does not happen because it is an "economic thing."

"It costs a certain amount of money to put up a cell tower," explained University of Kentucky Associate Professor Dr. William Smith. "If you're not getting enough business from it, you won't put up a tower there."

WKYT reached out to AT&T, one of the biggest carriers in Lexington, but they declined an interview request.

A regional representative for the company released a statement that acknowledged consumers "are adopting mobile services at a tremendous rate" and said that growth has inspired the company to invest "billions" into its networks.

"In fact, mobile data traffic on AT&T's wireless network increased 100,000 percent from 2007 to 2014," the statement said. "This growth in consumer demand is the driving force behind the billions of dollars that we invest in our networks every year. In Kentucky during the first eight months of the year, our employees turned those investments into upgrades, enhancements and new deployments of high-speed Internet through our wired and wireless networks across the Commonwealth."

The representative said there are more than 100 projects to improve and enhance our 4G LTE network, including 21 projects in Fayette County. She did not say where.

Smith, the UK professor, said cellphone towers are typically placed along the interstates, and in downtown areas.

"When you pick up the phone and you start to dial it, it does a little handshake with the cell tower and requires a frequency and then connects to other phones," he said.

However, Smith said even the most populated places can be a problem.

"If you have too many people trying to access the same tower then you're just not going to be able to get everybody through."

Cohn said the problem with dead cell zones has to do more customer awareness about carrier coverage.

"Dead cell zones would not exist if the carriers were completely honest about where they had coverage, for sure."

Cohn's best is advice is to question carriers before you pick one, and possibly pick the smallest.

"I would honestly look if they have coverage, look at going with the carrier that has fewer people using the phone in your neighborhood," he said.

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