Reliable cellphone service may be around the corner.
There may soon be new carriers and improved signals for the cell tower in Bradenton Beach.
The tower recently was repaired after damage incurred during Hurricane Irma
When Irma blew by Sept. 10, 2017, the storm took down a 4-by-12-foot section of paneling, which landed on a boat in the Bradenton Beach Marina, adjacent to the tower.
Following Irma, marina owner Mike Bazzy contacted cell tower owner SBA Communications Corporation about fixing the tower and reinforcing it so panels would be less likely to blow off in storm events.
According to Bazzy, SBA representatives said a new “locking system” would be manufactured and installed on the tower.
SBA workers climbed the cell tower Feb. 5 and attached new panels and the reinforced locking system.
However, according to Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, representatives from SBA said more equipment soon may soon be added to the tower.
Speciale said Feb. 14 that AT&T Wireless would be added as a carrier “within the next few weeks.” He said the AT&T portion of the tower would be near the top, and he would be contacted by AT&T representatives when they are ready to place a crane to install the antenna.
“Higher on the tower should mean better coverage,” Speciale said.
Bradenton Beach leases the land the tower is on to SBA and Speciale is the contact for the city.
SBA spokeswoman Lynne Hopkins confirmed Feb. 15 that AT&T is in the process of being added as a carrier.
Currently, Cingular and Verizon Wireless are the only carriers on the cell tower. According to Commissioner Marilyn Maro, commission liaison to SBA, other service providers — including Sprint and T-Mobile — could be added if the carriers expand their service.
Hopkins confirmed Maro’s statement and suggested people call their carriers, but ask to speak to “technical support,” not customer service.
“Customer service would not be the right area,” Hopkins said Feb. 15. “If people speak to the technical resource department and say they have a weak signal, the engineers could then look into the possibility of making a change.”
Workers with SBA Communications Corporation mount a panel Feb. 5 to the cell tower in Bradenton Beach. The tower was damaged Sept. 10, 2017, by high winds from Hurricane Irma. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Cell tower provides city revenue
The Bradenton Beach cell tower, which was constructed in September 2014, provides some revenue for the city.
The city received a $320,000 advance payment June 2014 from tower builder Florida Tower Partners of Bradenton.
The cell tower was sold to SBA Communications Corporation, which leases the tower property from the city.
Currently, the city receives quarterly payments amounting to 30 percent of tower revenues for any activated provider companies.
In 2017, the city earned $1,093.48 in cell tower revenue from carriers Cingular and Verizon Wireless.