07 October 2014
Fluvanna County just happens to be in one of only four areas in the entire state designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2012 as disadvantaged for broadband and cell phone coverage, said Emergency Services Coordinator Cheryl Wilkins.
The FCC’s Mobility Fund project is providing financial incentive for private companies to build the facilities necessary to expand third generation, or “3G,” mobile wireless services to areas of the country in which it would not normally be cost-effective for those companies to build – an initiative similar to the one that brought electricity to rural areas in the 1930s.
T-Mobile won the contract – $2 million to bring 3G and 4G mobile services to eastern Fluvanna County – and a developer named 52 Eighty Partners LLC is building the three telecommunications towers, said 52 Eighty’s representative Dale Finocchi. By federal requirement, the project needs to cover 75 percent or more of the 176 Fluvanna road miles specified by the FCC.
Not only is this project good news for Fluvanna residents who need cell phone coverage in their homes and on the road, but it also gives a boost to emergency services in the county in that the county can use the towers for its E911 radio communications. Right now in the rural areas of the county there are dead zones where law enforcement and rescue personnel can’t call in or out. But access to these new towers will go a long way toward alleviating that problem.
The first tower will be off of Venable Road in Kents Store. The second will be off Bremo Road near Columbia. And the third will be only half a mile from the tower at Dominion’s power plant in Bremo Bluff. For security reasons, Dominion won’t allow T-Mobile access to its tower, which is why 52 Eighty is building another tower so close by.
Emergency services in the county will have access to the first two towers for communications, but have waived their claim to access to the Bremo Bluff tower since they already use the Dominion tower for communications.
The monopole towers will all be less than 200 feet tall and will be somewhat visible in their areas, Finocchi said on Wednesday (Sept. 17) as he showed the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors photos of the three locations with the towers digitally inserted into the images.
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