By this point, complaining about cell service in town might seem like old hat, but that doesn’t mean reception has gotten any better.
Toward that end, a public meeting to discuss the state of cell service in New Canaan will take place May 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wagner room of New Canaan High Schoool.
A map provided by Verizon at the Jan. 9 information session showing existing cell coverage (dark blue), anticipated cell coverage due to projects in Wilton and Stamford (yellow) and proposed coverage from the proposed 82 Puddin Hill Road site (magenta).
The meeting was organized by Utilities Commission member Geoff Pickard, who has led the campaign for more towers in town.
“The purpose of this meeting to apprise the residents of New Canaan about the current status of our wireless improvement initiative, and to invite residents to ask questions about what the Utilities Commission has planned as we strive for better and faster cell coverage. No question will go unanswered,” the press release for the meeting states.
Recently, plans were unveiled to install a cell tower in the transfer station. This would improve cell coverage in the southern part of town, but would not reach to the rural north. The tower is expected to be up and functional within two years.
Below is the full press release for the meeting.
Town Utilities Commission Calls for Town-wide Meeting to Review Our Wireless Coverage Today and Discuss how We’re Working to Improve the Coverage with the Help of Town Residents
To: Members of the Area Broadcast,On-line & Print Media:
The Town of New Canaan Utilities Commission has scheduled a public meeting for May 9, 2013 at 7:30pm in the Wagner Room of the New Canaan high school. The high school is at 11 Farm Road off South Avenue in the Town of New Canaan, CT – Zip 06840
The purpose of this meeting to apprise the residents of New Canaan about the current status of our wireless improvement initiative, and to invite residents to ask questions about what the Utilities Commission has planned as we strive for better and faster cell coverage. No question will go unanswered.
One of the points of emphasis will be to highlight the safety issues we believe exist because too many 911 emergency calls fail. Parts of New Canaan have little or no coverage – especially in the northern part of town.
The area media has often written about examples of missed 911 calls. . .including the family who’s home caught fire during Storm Sandy and had to drive miles before they could get a cell signal and call the fire department. When the firemen arrived, the roof of the home had been destroyed. That same storm found a Town worker trapped in his truck by live power lines. He called 911 but his call also failed and he was only rescued when other town workers saw the problem and called CL&P who turned off the power.
Other examples of missed 911 calls involve residents who have been involved in car related accidents. Nice people stopped at the accident scenes and dialed 911 on their cell phones. In several cases the 911 calls were answered but by emergency sites outside of New Canaan and messages had to be relayed back to the New Canaan 911 call center to initiate a response. Two of these accidents resulted in deaths. We ask could it have made a difference if the calls had been directly received by NC 911? We’ll never know. Precious time was lost.
Interestingly where we have weak or poor cell coverage, our Town police and fire departments report they also have poor radio coverage. Any new cell tower will have the option of having both police and fire radio antennas installed on the same tower.
In reviewing the Town Cell Phone Survey results ( enter this address in your computer browser to take the survey: http://surveymonkey.com/s/m2rl8f2 ) we see many references by residents who have also experienced missed 911 calls. One missed 911 call is too many!
The Commission believes that no one should be denied the ability to reach emergency personnel in our Town if their power has been cut or if they are in their car, at home or on the street and need help. This is why the Town has emergency 911 service but to be effective during all kinds of situations, our wireless phone system also needs to work reliably. Our long range goal is to raise our coverage reliability from about 25% today, up into the 80%+ range. Why is our coverage poor in many areas? Because our 22 sq mile town has a topography of many ridges and valleys and cell signals don’t do well over this kind of terrain. Yes we will need more cell towers!
Neither the Town nor the Utilities Commission select new cell tower sites. This decision is made by the major cell providers who use RF mapping techniques to add a new tower which they know will help to fill in the coverage holes. It’s no secret that we are running out of new siting choices. The cell providers are always open to hearing from residents who may have a new tower site recommendation. All new possible sites brought to our attention are evaluated.
The meeting format on May 9th will be straight forward. UC Commissioner Dan Welch will open the meeting, introduce people from the Town government, reps from the three major cell providers, hopefully a representative from the CT Siting Council, Jim Lisher the Town Health & Human Resources Commissioner will discuss the Town wireless Senior Home Health Care monitoring program plus other members of the Commission. Then the meeting will be opened to questions from the floor. We are describing this meeting as a good old fashion information exchange.
Please join us on May 9th at 7:30pm and come prepared to ask your own questions. Thanks for your support.
Geoffrey Pickard – Member
Town of New Canaan Utilities Commission
203-273-1047 – mobile