In remote, mountainous Sperryville, VA, telecom provider Piedmont Broadband has relied on trees rather than cell towers to host their equipment. A “yuma green” tower is about to change all that with the transmitters that were installed over the weekend, reports the Rappahannock News. Community Wireless Structures built the tower in April 2019, but transforming it into an operational cell tower has been a long process.
“Unfortunately, because of the mountainous terrain of Rappahannock County I would say that we can’t get service to about half of the people who request it,” said Jess Settle of Piedmont Broadband. “It’s a huge problem…but we’re a small company that doesn’t get any outside funding so we can only do so much.” The company says that requests for service quadrupled this spring as people sought ways to deal with the pandemic.
The first to benefit from the new tower was the county fire and rescue squad whose Comcast fiber connection brought them onboard earlier this year. All seven companies expect to have their communications devices working shortly. Verizon is in the process of adding antennas to the tower and says service should be available by early September. T-Mobile, Shentel, and AT&T are also evaluating whether or not to install equipment.
Piedmont Broadband has hired technicians to help cope with the upsurge in interest. A second tower in Scrabble is on the drawing board and additional towers along the Route 231 corridor have been discussed. Plans are on hold as carriers assess whether or not they are willing to commit to investing in the region. The extra towers would ease the burden on Piedmont, which currently has 500 customers on their books, twice the amount they had expected to serve.
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