AT&T flips the switch on new North Country cell tower
If you've ever tried making a call on your cell phone from the North Country, you know that getting a signal isn't always a guarantee. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, thanks to several new AT&T cell towers, customers are finding they're getting "more bars in more places."
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SCHROON LAKE, N.Y. -- If you get off the Northway at Exit 27 and take a look at that big new pine tree, you'll quickly find out it's not a tree at all: it's a new AT&T cell tower.
"It's a 90-foot tower,” said Leigh Walrath, an environmental program specialist with the Adirondack Park Agency. “With the branching it extends slightly above that."
Adorned with plenty of leaves and branches to fit in with the natural landscape of the Adirondacks, the new tower expands mobile coverage in the expansive Adirondack Park - an area that's been vastly underserved.
"Sometimes coming up the Northway between [exits] 26 and 27, you lose cell coverage,” Senator Betty Little said. “This will make things more stable right up to Exit 28."
A process that used to be grueling, AT&T executives say applying to build new towers has become less of a struggle. That's because providers, local leaders and the Adirondack Park Agency have been more apt to work together and because new technologies allow different carriers like Verizon and Sprint to use the same tower.
"We have made sure that we've picked areas in the park that will provide for co-location, so it's less impactful on the community while at the same time is giving our customers what they need," said Ellen Webner, an AT&T spokesperson.
The tower is owned and operated by Independent Towers. If a new wireless carrier was interested in applying for a permit to use the tower, Walrath says they would have do so as a lessee in a joint application with Independent Towers.
Expanding mobile coverage is also a matter of public safety. In January 2007, less than 30 miles from the site of the new tower, Brooklyn residents Alfred and Barbara Langner were traveling south when they crashed on the Northway in the town of North Hudson.
Outside of the view of passing motorists and unable to get a signal on his cell phone, Alfred, 63, froze to death while waiting for help.
"That man died with a cell phone on his chest that he could not use and he was on a highway," Little said.
"That really, I think, got everybody's attention," North Hudson Town Supervisor Ronald Moore said.
Now, with several inconspicuous towers popping up in more places, customers are starting to get the coverage they need while keeping the scenery intact.
“I know there are people that don't like to see cell towers, but my answer is ‘just don't look at them,’” Little said. “It's just important to have them in our area."