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Date of Issue: March 12, 2008

Company-cities negotiate cell contract

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Not the future of cell towers
NextG wireless communications company indicated last week that its equipment is similar to a small panel attached to an existing utility pole and looks nothing like the cell tower at Smith Realtors on Marina Drive in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

While wireless communications provider NextG Networks of Virginia has not yet submitted a formal application to any Island city to build a cell tower, company executive Robert Delsman said NextG is near to signing a contract with a carrier to provide wireless communications on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Delsman said he could not reveal the name of the carrier, but would make that announcement as soon as the contract is signed.

In preparation for an actual agreement, NextG sent each Island city and Longboat Key a form letter two weeks ago announcing it intends to file a formal application to construct wireless communications facilities in the respective cities.

NextG utilizes a distributive antenna system (DAS) that is essentially a small piece of relay equipment that attaches to an existing utility pole to forward the wireless signal to the next antenna and, eventually, to the customer.

“Out intention is to deploy in this area,” Delsman said.

He said the letter sent to the cities was a form letter required by federal law requesting information on a city’s wireless communications facilities ordinance. If a city does not yet have such an ordinance or wireless communications facilities plan, Delsman said, the letter “puts a city on notice” that it needs to have such an ordinance or plan in place to conform to federal law.

Delsman made it clear that NextG is not an “end-user,” but is contracted by firms such as Nextel, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to construct the equipment that will provide the wireless signal.

While different equipment is available to relay a wireless signal, Delsman indicated that many DAS systems use a panel antenna that might be 18-36 inches in height and just a few inches wide, depending upon the quality and strength of the signal required and the aesthetics involved. The panel is attached to an existing pole and no cell tower is required, he emphasized.

Delsman said he had no time frame on when a contract would be finalized and signed. Once a contract is in place, however, he said NextG would establish general guidelines for completion of the system, from permitting through design, construction and installation. NextG has a Web site at www.nextgnetworks.net for more information on its products, services and operations.

Verizon Wireless previously has indicated a desire to build a facility in Anna Maria, but each effort has been thwarted, either through public opposition or lack of a suitable location.

Last year, Verizon Wireless was interested in the Anna Maria Island Community Center as a location, but the Center’s board backed off pursuit of a contract after a number of its donors indicated they would withdraw their pledges if the Center proceeded with such a plan.

 

NextG meets next with Holmes Beach

Officials with NextG wireless communications company along with Holmes Beach building official staff and city attorney Patricia Petruff, were scheduled to meet March 12 prior to the city commission meeting to discuss the company’s effort to apply for a installation of a wireless communications antenna system using a distributive antenna system (DAS) in Holmes Beach.

The company had not yet scheduled a similar meeting with officials in Anna Maria, but a company spokesperson said it plans to meet as soon as possible with city officials from each Island city and Longboat Key to discuss applying for a wireless communications facility.