Wireless communications will receive a dramatic shot in the arm with the installation of a new 400-foot cell tower in Powhatan, VA, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The tower will occupy land owned by private citizens Chris and Cary Martin, who said they were pleased to support the project.
“My wife and I decided anything that would keep them safe, we would go with it,” said Martin, whose son is employed as a firefighter.
“Essentially 95 percent of the county is going to have excellent, excellent coverage. It doesn’t mean the other 5 percent won’t. It just means we are going to have certain measurable standards for 95 percent,” said Tom Nolan, director of public safety communications.
There are acknowledged dead zones in the area that will significantly diminish once this new cell tower and others under construction can blanket the area. Conditional use permits were first issued in October 2019 for seven towers across the region. Each new tower costs approximately $650,000, part of a $9.7 million contract the county has with L3Harris, who is in charge of constructing the cell towers. Some existing structures will also be refitted with new LMR equipment. The finished system should be operational by June 2022, with different phases introducing new capabilities as the project unfolds.
“It is going to provide us with some critical coverage where we don’t have any other towers in the area we can hop on. Putting [the cell towers] at 400 feet, our coverage footprint is tremendous,” said Nolan. He added that the county is in negotiations with Verizon, with plans to add other carriers at a later date. “We are doing everything we possibly can to make sure Verizon has the opportunity to be on this tower as fast as possible. We are not slowing anything down. We are working right now to get the lease contract done,” he confirmed.