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New Projects Will Boost Cell Service

The Vermont Telecommunications Authority has announced plans to extend cellular phone service along hundreds of miles of Vermont roads.

The plans include two projects.  Both involve installing small units on utility poles to provide cell coverage along roadways.

"These focus on our target corridors; areas that either don't have any cell service now or have significant drop zones within them." - Chris Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.

The projects will be built and operated by CoverageCo, a company based in Massachusetts and Virginia.

Combined with an existing CoverageCo system the projects will provide service to 450 miles of highway in parts of 60 Vermont towns.

“These focus on our target corridors; areas that either don’t have any cell service now or have significant drop zones within them,” says Chris Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.

The first project, which includes stretches of highway throughout the state, will be funded by a $1.6 VTA grant and by investments by CoverageCo.

The second project will use $1.8 million in federal funds to extend the system and provide what are called “resilient communication sites” in towns that were without service after Tropical Storm Irene.

The sites will be installed in Halifax, Hancock, Norton, Readsboro, Rochester, Roxbury, Stockbridge, Townshend and Whitingham.

They will be equipped with a backup system designed by Northern Reliability, Inc. in Waitsfield.

Campbell says these projects and others have improved service to roughly two-thirds of  Vermont roads identified as target corridors.

“That’s some significant progress.  And yet we know that there is still work to do to reach all of the areas that we’ve targeted for cellular coverage,” says Campbell.

CoverageCo currently has roaming agreements with Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Canadian carriers.

The projects are scheduled to be completed next year.

Download a copy of the expansion project map (1.45mb pdf)

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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