It has been a well-known fact in Randolph County that if you own a cell phone and live in Wadley, your options for a service provider are basically AT&T or no one.
And if you came to this article looking for a definitive reason why that has changed, you are probably going to be disappointed. It turns out finding someone to take credit for something almost everyone is happy about is much harder than you might think.
Here’s what we know. Cell phone users on providers such as T-Mobile and Verizon in Wadley have reported drastically improved service over the past week. The reason is presumably because those companies took some sort of meaningful steps – construction of towers, an agreement with owners of existing towers, boosting signals – to make that a reality. But, despite some determined efforts, the Leader was not able to track down the specifics of those efforts.
We checked with Wadley mayor Donna McKay, who was grateful for the increased coverage but did not know any details.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I wish I did. I know it was needed by several people that come here that don’t have AT&T.”
We asked Shondae Brown, the director of public relations at Southern Union. SU and president Todd Shackett have been outspoken for years about wanting to give their students better cell coverage on the Wadley campus.
Brown acknowledged those efforts but stopped short of drawing a direct line between SU and the improved service.
“I don’t know if we are directly responsible for that,” she said. “But I do know we have been in conversation with Verizon for the past year or so to try to improve service in the area.”
We even visited the T-Mobile store in Roanoke to try to pick up the trail. A representative there said that T-Mobile has been working to increase coverage in weak spots throughout the county, including in Wadley and on Lake Wedowee, but those efforts were believed to be ongoing and not at a point of completion.
And efforts to track down someone at Verizon to speak to the changes did not bear any meaningful fruit.
So for now, while it’s a safe assumption that someone has done something to bring cell coverage in Wadley into the 21st century, the specifics of who that is and what they did will remain a mystery.