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photoAT&T leases space on a communications tower on Patterson Mountain near Winthrop. Photo by Curtis Edwards

Country Connection
Cell service in
the Methow

Cell phone service in the upper Methow Valley is all provided through two towers, one providing service for AT&T, the other for Verizon.

The AT&T tower is on the side of Patterson Mountain and covers more of the upper valley toward Mazama. The Verizon tower is on McClure Mountain above Twisp and covers more of the lower valley.

But that doesn’t mean Verizon is the better service for someone down valley and AT&T for someone up valley. AT&T covers more of the Methow Valley overall because they also use the Verizon tower. Verizon only uses their one tower.

The reach of each tower depends on topography, weather, obstacles to the signal like vegetation, and the cell's transmission power. Power can be higher in rural areas, with fewer competing cells, than in urban areas.

Will there be more cell towers? Jerry Palm, a fire commissioner and owner of Palm Construction says, “We’re working with Verizon on leasing property at the Mazama [fire] station. I don’t know when they are planning on putting a tower up. I thought they were going to do it here pretty soon, but plans might change.” This tower would boost Verizon’s coverage.

Usually cell phone companies lease the land that the towers are on. Verizon leases the land on McClure from the Forest Service. The tower AT&T is owned by IntrSpectrum, LLC.

photo of antennas on timbered hilltopAmong the many antennas on McClure Mountain above Twisp is a Verizon cell tower. Photo by Steven Foreman

It costs about $150,000 to build a new cell tower, according to, one of the largest consultants on cell towers. An average lease for a property to put the tower on is around $1,500 per month. For anyone contemplating inviting a tower on their land the chances of having the right piece of property for a tower is less than 2.5% according to the website.

For data connections, Verizon provides the faster 3G network in the upper Methow while AT&T is still using its slower Edge network.

Professional photographer and AT&T customer Frederick Sears who spends a lot of time photographing the Methow Valley says, “I have good coverage up Eight Mile Creek and decent coverage down valley. Up towards the Loup it gets cruddy again.”


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