City approves Verizon project for small cell installations


Verizon Wireless plans to improve local service coverage and increase wireless capacity by installing small cell technology in Seymour next year.

The wireless provider recently received approval for the project from the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety.

Leonard Strickland, representing Verizon, said the company wants to put up eight of the 4G small cells, most on the city’s east side.

Small cells are wireless transmitters and receivers designed to provide network coverage to smaller areas. They are about the size of a picnic cooler or mini-fridge and are mounted on streetlights, utility poles, buildings and other structures.

Sites that have been chosen include Fourth Street near Cummins Seymour Engine Plant, in between Brown and Hancock streets, Hickory Hill Road, Jackson Park Drive near Home Products International, Miller Lane at Shields Crossing Apartments, O’Brien and Third streets, Rebecca Court and Marley Lane and Tipton and Bush streets near the Cummins retention pond.

Strickland said half of the sites have existing utility poles that will be replaced, and the other half will require poles be installed.

The locations fill in coverage gaps Verizon has identified and will help improve cellular coverage in the city, Strickland said.

The small cells also will serve as additional points of location for enhanced 911 service, he added.

On some of the identified locations, Verizon plans to add streetlights at no cost to the city to improve safety in those areas, too, Strickland said.

"As we all know, we do everything on our cellphones nowadays, and as that demand for cellphone usage continues to grow, we have to grow our network in ways to support that," he said.

The previous means of growth for wireless companies was adding large cell towers that reach 100 feet or more in height, he said, but not a lot of people like having the towers so visible in their communities.

Chad Dixon, director of the Seymour Department of Public Works, said he was concerned about the potential safety hazards of radio frequency energy from the cells.

Strickland said Verizon is heavily regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

"These have been approved by the FCC, and we fall well below the actual established guidelines," he said. "There are no health or safety issues, according to the FCC right now, but we take that very seriously."

Verizon has partnered with Duke Energy so some of the small cells will be located on their poles.

"Duke will come out, swap out the pole for one that is anywhere from 10 to 15 feet taller than the one that is already there and we’ll mount our equipment to their pole," Strickland said.

Due to Duke’s requirement that nothing else can be added to the pole, Verizon will be putting in ground cabinets to house the radio, meter and disconnect.

City engineer Bernie Hauersperger said he has reviewed the sites and approves of them.

"I believe it’s a good solution versus the high mass towers," he said.

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