A replacement tower, a key part of a new 4G network was installed last Sunday (Feb. 23) after delivery by a Chinook helicopter. It’s far from perfect and not even close to the blanket coverage of most cities and towns, but it’s a giant leap forward for some AT&T cell network users in and around Three Rivers.
One technician reported that renting one of the big military-style choppers cost $60,000 a minute for any overtime usage. So everything had to be ready when the special delivery cell tower arrived.
Getting the site ready on former Britten land on a ridgetop 2,200 feet above Three Rivers was a process that actually was set in motion after a lightning strike knocked out the company’s main tower on Case Mountain on April 25, 2012. Cell service, out for six days, was finally restored on May 1.
Since locals had to endure nearly a week without cell phones, there has been public pressure on the area’s only cell provider to upgrade the service.
The company had been using a temporary tower mounted on a truck for the last several weeks to accommodate a new relay tower. Recently, service improved dramatically in some areas of Three Rivers, specifically for those in line of sight from the new installation.
“We now have a good signal above the Bailey Bridge [three miles up North Fork Drive] where before we had a dead zone,” reported an AT&T subcontractor repairman. “You will notice five bars in places where previously we never even had a signal.”
The upgrade in service also means that laptop computers with wireless networks, smartphones, and tablet devices capable of employing a 4G network can now download more data at higher speeds. The 4G stands for “fourth generation,” and was first introduced in 2008. As a rule, provided the user is on the same carrier, a 4G connection will be faster than a 3G one.
The arrival of 4G in Three Rivers was made possible once a “smart antenna array” was installed. The new antenna location extends coverage and now makes it possible for mobile users (in cars and buses, for example) to utilize 100 megabits per second in downloads; stationary users can utilize speeds approaching 1 gigabit per second depending on location and signal strength.
Why is a 4G network necessary? It’s all about content, cloud computing (using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data), and ultimately the ability to stream high-definition video on TVs with integrated Internet capabilities, smartphones, and tablets.
So if you see someone staring at their handheld device in Three Rivers now, they just might be watching their favorite TV show in a higher resolution than your flat-screen TV.
Welcome to the 21st century.