Skip to main content

The tower’s up! Now what?

October 5, 2023
By Marcy Shortuse

It’s gunmetal gray. It’s monolithic. It even has a handsome blinking red light. The problem is, there are no carriers attached to our new cell phone tower.

When will the equipment be delivered and installed? According to the Boca Grande Cell Tower Committee, two of the three carriers – AT&T and Verizon – have already applied for their permits. Verizon has even had some of their equipment delivered to the site.

So far, AT&T is a no show as far as pulling their permit or communicating with island authorities as to what their time frame is.

Steve Raville, a Cell Tower Committee member, said it normally takes only 90 days for carriers to be installed on a tower. 

“I would expect they will work as quickly as they can … those COWs cost a lot of money,” he said.

He was referring to the Cell on Wheels towers placed across the island, which run on generators and electricity. They require a lot of power, which costs the companies more than placement on a regular tower would.

The sooner the carriers are installed, the better. Part-time residents are already coming back to the island, and some have health issues that require access to a cell phone signal 24/7. From Life Alert pendants to heart monitors that feed information directly to cardiologists, having no cell phone service with a population of primarily 65-and-older people could be problematic.

At many any spots on the north end and much of the south end, people are unable to use their phones.

While Vertical Bridge, T Steele Construction and Mas Tec have held up their end of the deal in getting the tower stacked by the end of the month (and that was with several setbacks), the ball has now been placed in the laps of the cell phone companies.