Mayor Working To Improve Cell Phone Reception In Vermilion
September 22, 2019 at 4:49 pm
At the Streets, Buildings & Grounds Committee Meeting on September 16, Mayor Forthofer presented a power point presentation on the current poor cell phone coverage on the east end of town. He explained that the poor cell phone reception along the east end corridor has direct influence on development of this area. A $35,000 Corridor Study by the Lorain County Engineers determined it would be difficult putting a perspective company in this area without proper cell coverage. Therefore the mayor has been on a mission to learn more about cell coverage on this end of town.
The mayor identified the areas of dead zone cell coverage runs along Route 6, down to about Hilltop, at the lake from about Harcourt, all the way to the city line. This information was conveyed to Verizon, emphasizing the negative impact on future development and the current impact on the residents.
The Verizon engineering department responded that improvement of coverage in the area depends on Verizon buying up land for cell towers. Verizon provided the mayor with a description of the different types of cell towers they have, and one is the mono tower which is about 150’ tall. This is the type of tower they originally were going to consider at the west end of town. Also, there is a small cell tower that can be put on top of a building or poles, and then there is the option of taking a current mono tower and co-locating it with other units and boosters. However, you must have permission from the owner of that tower as not all towers are owned by Verizon.
Verizon stated they wanted to put a mono tower on the western side of Route 6 last year, but it never got traction as Verizon thought there was some push back as far as welcoming a cell phone tower at this end of town. The area they would like to put a booster to help the city’s dead zone is south of the fire station on Overlook. This is a power broker’s tower and Verizon would like to co-locate on it with a booster that they feel will take care of the cell dead zone issue. The mayor offered to have them place it on the city’s water tower, but the engineering department felt it was too far away from where they want to be.
The mayor has also spoken with other carriers who have said that one of the rules is not to shoot north because you end up in the lake and “fish do not have cell phones”. They instead go along the lake east and west to fill the gap, co-locating onto a broker’s existing tower.
Mayor Forthofer stated that Verizon acknowledged there is a problem and it is community wide. A mono pole or co-location is needed, and Vermilion’s water tower is unacceptable. Verizon is negotiating with the current tower owner for co-location, and a resolution would be next spring at the earliest if they are able to co-locate.
The mayor has also communicated with FirstNet, a spinoff of AT&T, to discuss a dedicated ban for First Responders in case of an emergency. He sent FirstNet representatives a copy of the map of the dead zone. They felt they had strong signals in those areas.
In conclusion, Mayor Forthofer reiterated that Verizon is trying to get co-location and conveyed that AT&T seems to have a stronger signal in this dead zone area.