Saturday 20 August 2011

COWs Move to Martha’s Vineyard

It seems that the residents of Red Rock and selected areas of St. Joseph Island are not the only people who do not have full time cellular coverage. The good folks of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, USA usually have limited or no cell service either.

However, according to an article in the NY Times, this all changes in July and August each year when Verizon installs a couple of COWs – Cell On Wheels (1) – to coincide with President Obama’s holiday on the island.


AT&T hardware does not work on the technically incompatible Verizon network provided by the COWs. Not everyone is happy with the difference in hardware. (At one time AT&T was the sole source for cell enabled Apple iPhones and many legacy users remain.)  This is the similar to the challenge faced by Bell customers trying to access the Tbaytel HSPA network along the Hwy 17 north corridor .

As one might expect, many island residents do not want or appreciate the cell service while others welcome the convenience

Come September, the COWs will head back to the barn and Martha Vineyard will revert to its normal bucolic self.

(1) Cell on Wheels Often referred to as a COW, it is a portable base station, usually a large truck or a van that is used to provide temporary wireless network capacity. COWs are typically used during special events where a larger number of people will converge on one area, or in disaster areas if the base station has been damaged. The COW vehicle will consist of a cellular tower and all the support equipment  needed to provide mobile wireless communications.

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