Officials Say Better Cell Phone Coverage Is Coming

06/04/12 7:34AM By Ross Sneyd
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Better cell phone coverage should come to several areas of the state this fall where it's currently difficult to get a signal.

The expansion of cell service will rely on small-scale technology that can be quickly installed.

There are still a lot of places all over the state where calls not only drop, but they never connect at all.

"One of the challenges in providing cellular service on the Vermont landscape is that we have a lot of hills and valleys," said Chris Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, "And if you are trying to provide cellular service over a wide area, oftentimes it's challenging to get the signal down into those valleys all the way. And a lot of our roads run along these valley floors."

To reach those valleys, the authority has signed a contract with CoverageCo, a wholesale cellular service provider based in Massachusetts.

The expansion in Vermont will rely on what's known as small-cell radio equipment that will be installed on utility poles along back roads in northern parts of the state.

Chris Campbell says that equipment will carry the wireless telephone signals of big-name retail cell phone providers.

"So we're actually hopeful that this kind of a strategy will produce a more consistent user experience along the corridors that they're covering," Campbell explains.

Here's the potential catch, though. As a wholesale provider, CoverageCo needs to sign contracts with the big companies such as Verizon or AT&T before it can carry their signals.

So far, CoverageCo only has an agreement with Sprint.

Campbell says the Telecommunications Authority is optimistic that CoverageCo will reach deals with other companies and this system will connect more parts of the state. By some time this fall, eight stretches of road will be equipped.

And if that's successful, the authority hopes to duplicate the technology in other places that don't currently have service.

The new towers will be installed on:

·         Route 110 in Washington, through Chelsea, into part of Tunbridge

·         From Route 110 in Chelsea along the East Randolph Road into a part of Randolph

·         Route 25 from Orange, through Topsham, through Corinth, into a part of Bradford

·         From Route 25 in East Corinth along the Topsham-Corinth Road and Powder Spring Road through Topsham to Route 302 in Groton

·         Route 302 east of Orange through Topsham through Groton to South Ryegate

·         Six miles along Route 15 in Wolcott

·         Route 108 in Bakersfield through East Fletcher into Jeffersonville and Cambridge

·         Route 15 from Jeffersonville to Johnson

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