Press-Republican

Local News

April 29, 2009

Northway cell gap closed

AT&T joins network with tower on line in Lewis

LAKE PLACID — Another wireless telephone giant is expanding North Country coverage with an eye on the Adirondack Park.



The first new AT&T; cell-phone tower, reaching a previously dark stretch of Adirondack Northway, went on line in Lewis recently.



ASSET SWAP

AT&T; gained an undisclosed number of existing towers when it acquired former Unicel infrastructure in northern New York as part of an asset swap with Verizon Wireless, a move advised by the Federal Communications Commission.



Phase 1 of expansion involves ensuring former Rural Cellular/Unicel equipment makes a seamless switch to AT&T; network systems, company officials said.



"We're very excited to be in the territory and start working with local officials," said Jay Summerson, AT&T; New York's vice president for external affairs.



"It all comes back to the customers' experience and what we can provide so they can reach their potential."



PROGRESS

Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) worked with local leaders over the past two years, creating an inventory of tall structures throughout Adirondack towns and villages, hoping cell-phone companies would be encouraged to invest in the rural mountain region.



Little lauded the advance of AT&T; as a sign of continued progress.



Verizon Wireless has already sited eight new towers in its network to improve cell service on Interstate 87 and Routes 73 and 86.



"Public safety continues to improve with each new tower activation," Little said. "I'm very pleased with the progress we are seeing and am thankful for AT&T;'s efforts.



"I traveled the Northway on Thursday and again Saturday and thought about the improved coverage and how much better all travelers are in being able to make a call in the event of an emergency."



'DELICATE BALANCE'

Adding telecommunications towers in the Adirondack Park is a blend of technological engineering and landscape architecture.

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