The new tower could be up by next summer or fall once the project gets approval from the city, Federal Communications Commission and Federal Aviation Administration.
The new tower will be paid for by Verizon and TowerCo, a North Carolina-based company and major builder of cell towers, according to Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster.
“It’s on a fast track because Verizon would like to have had it up six months ago,” said Armbruster, who was involved in working out details of the project with Verizon and TowerCo.
The new tower, which is set to be built behind the City Hall complex off Bainbridge Road, will eliminate periodic problems with cell coverage in the city.
“Both the Police and Fire departments experienced areas in town that did not have very good reception,” Armbruster said.
Verizon proposed the new tower as a means of upgrading its 4G cellphone coverage, Reese said.
“All mobile data terminals in our ambulances work off 4G, which should improve our ability to receive (emergency) calls from our dispatch center,” Reese said.
The city’s fire and police emergency calls are handled by Westcom, the county’s 911 dispatch center.
Emergency calls periodically were not being heard the way they were broadcasted with equipment through the existing tower, according to Reese.
The tower was built in the 1970s.
No calls were actually missed, as they simultaneously are sent out by computer, Reese said.
Verizon and TowerCo will pay costs of radio equipment, including new antennas for the new tower, which will serve radio communications for school bus drivers as well as local fire and police forces, Armbruster said.
Once the tower is built, the city will be responsible for maintaining it.