Verizon Mobility Improvement Project Still on Hold

Dec 13, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The Surf City Borough Council won’t consider final approval for a request from Verizon Wireless to place network nodes in town as a means to improve connectivity for mobile users until after the first of the year.  Council members unanimously withheld support of the project more than a month ago, citing the wireless giant’s failure to address concerns officials have with nearly two dozen faulty poles.

“Following the last meeting, we received a list of locations that the town was concerned about,” David Weissmann, public relations manager for Verizon’s Northeast market, said. “We have surveyed the locations, and are working on the areas that require attention. We anticipate completing work shortly.”

At least six of the troublesome poles, according to an update the company provided to borough officials, do not require any work on the part of the wireless giant. Meanwhile, the company transferred its usage to the newer double poles on North Fifth Street, according to the update. Removal of the old, unused pole is the responsibility of the last entity attached to it, the update said, but it does not make clear if that is Verizon Wireless. On North Third Street, a cable pullout that hangs too low needs to be repaired.

The company anticipated the work would be finished before this week’s council meeting, but that doesn’t provide the borough enough time to verify the work is done to its satisfaction.

In August, borough officials agreed to move ahead with Verizon’s proposal to improve connectivity for mobile users. The decision was two months in the making since Verizon first asked to be allowed to place the network nodes, or radio boxes, in both residential and commercial zones. In the end, the council gave approval for the nodes to be placed only along Long Beach Boulevard and Central Avenue.

Most of the nodes will be located on the east side of the Boulevard, with a few exceptions, according to the proposal the council accepted in August. If there is no space on the poles Verizon Wireless has earmarked for placement, then they won’t be used, Morgan has said.

The nodes, about 2 feet in height, are small cell, low-frequency radio signals that work like a Wi-Fi hotspot, Larry Morgan, project manager for Tilson Technology, has told the council. The antennas are typically mounted on street lights or utility poles to bring wireless signals into areas that need better coverage or more capacity for customers, he said.

More people are using more wireless devices to do more things in more places, Morgan said. The demand for wireless data services has nearly doubled over the last year, and is expected to grow 650 percent between 2013 and 2018, according to a July 2017 statement Verizon Wireless released regarding the Surf City proposal.

Morgan said Verizon also has agreements with Barnegat Light, Beach Haven and Harvey Cedars to place network nodes in those communities.

Barnegat Light passed a resolution earlier this year allowing Verizon Wireless access to the borough’s rights-of-way to install small nodes on the existing utility poles to increase signal strength, said Brenda Kuhn, acting administrator/clerk for that town.

In May, Ship Bottom moved to protect the gateway community from such requests by unanimously amending an ordinance that establishes zoning regulations for wireless communications, facilities and equipment. The measure covers the areas inside and outside of borough rights-of-way, while redefining that term, as well as dead spots, antennae and facilities among many others.

Gina G. Scala

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