Inside the ‘ugly’ fight to get better cell service in the Hamptons

Venture capital heavyweight Alan Patricof — who founded private equity firm Apax Partners and Greycroft (which has invested in Bumble, Venmo and Goop) — is leading a crusade to get better cell service for Hamptonites, whose already patchy signal has been stretched further as city folk flood the area amid the pandemic.

But local pols say better service will require more “ugly” cell towers.

Patricof took out a full-page ad in the East Hampton Star urging residents to e-mail Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and Planning Board Secretary Jodi Walker, demanding they improve cellphone service.

“We’ve had it up to here with horrible, nonexistent cellphone service,” reads the copy by iconic ad vet Jerry Della Femina.

The ad lays out a dramatic scenario in which a loved one is driving and “feels a sharp pain in his chest.” “He pulls over, reaches for his cellphone and tries to call you . . . The police . . . anyone for help . . . He needs help immediately. It never comes,” it reads. The ad is signed by the Citizens for Better Cellphone Service.

Patricof, who’s had a place in the Hamptons since the ’80s, told us, “This is a pain in the neck for everybody out here, and it does have serious security implications.”

Van Scoyoc admitted there’s a major issue. “With the pandemic, we have a dramatic increase in our full-time population and a dramatic increase in the people working remotely and taking up bandwidth,” he told us. Even he is dropping calls at Town Hall these days. “The system we have is really inadequate.”

Van Scoyoc told us a temporary tower has been approved in Wainscott, where there’s a dead zone. They are also going to hire a “communications consultant to address the coverage issues in a comprehensive way.” But he says residents have resisted ugly towers in the past. “If the community wants better coverage, they are going to have to support towers.”

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