Can you hear me yet?
A proposal to improve spotty cellular communications coverage in areas of the City of Warren has cleared a hurdle.
Mark Kulik of Tilson, a network deployment and construction technology company with headquarters in Portland, Maine, spoke before the city Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday.
The company was contracted to improve cellular infrastructure for areas that have demonstrated deficiencies.
The proposal includes installing small antennas on utility poles. Those poles would be connected to a fiber-optic network which would carry the signal to cellular towers.
“This came as a result of a need communicated by the citizens of Warren?” board member Mark Eberle asked.
Kulik said the residents did not need to complain. Verizon keeps use reports including dropped calls and areas of no service. When it, or another company, finds an area that is problematic, it will take steps to rectify the problems, he said.
Kulik assured board members that it is highly unlikely that there would be any kind of interference to existing signals, but if there were, the Federal Communications Commission has protocols in place for rapid handling of interference.
At 602 Conewango Ave., “we are looking to put this on the existing Verizon pole,” Kulik said. The added equipment includes a 14-inch by four-foot box near the center of the pole that will contain a meter and disconnect and a two-foot tall, 18-inch diameter cylindrical antenna that will look like an extension on top of the pole.
Tilson, doing business as SQF LLC, would put a new pole in the existing location — a common ask by the pole owners, Kulik said. That would result in a slightly taller pole when a standard 38.5 foot pole (45 feet in total length with 6.5 feet buried) replaces the existing, shorter one.
At the 110 Hill St. location, there is not currently a pole. Nearby poles all have transformers or other equipment on them and the owner would require Tilson to install a ground-level system — something that does not satisfy the company’s needs.
A new pole would be installed and connected to power and fiber across the street.
There would be no need to trim or cut any trees at this time, Kulik said.
The board unanimously approved the special exceptions in both cases. City Planner David Hildebrand said the city code enforcement office would move forward and make sure the proposals are not in violation of any codes.
There is a 30-day appeal period that became effective once the board approved the special exceptions, Hildebrand said.
He said other, similar proposals could come before the board, but generally only in areas that are residential zones. In commercial and industrial zones, there would be no need for a special exception. The city offices would handle those applications.