State College

Patton Township gives OK to wireless improvements

The Board of Supervisors approved a distributed antenna system to be installed in the Oakwood area and on Colonnade Boulevard in a unanimous vote Wednesday.

The system, provided by Crown Castle NG East, a Verizon Wireless contractor, will provide enhanced wireless service and increased data speeds to Verizon customers.

In addition to the antennas, Crown Castle was also seeking to install fiber optic cables and connect them to the Verizon Wireless system.

According to Crown Castle representatives Bob Ritter and Rich Foltz, wireless demand continues to skyrocket throughout the country and has become part of the American lifestyle.

“Wireless-only households now make up one-third of all households,” Ritter said. “In Patton Township, that number is probably higher, with the high population of younger people and higher-income households.”

Wireless is a vital service, he said, indicating that a majority of 911 calls are now wireless.

Most sites developed in the past 20 years focused on providing signal, Ritter said, meaning most cellphone users will have full bars, but only so much data capacity. These antennas will help increase the capacity for the users.

Small antennas, such as the ones proposed, will bring capacity to more residential areas, he said, as well as areas where people congregate and use more devices.

“The antennas are non-intrusive, low power and cover a small area,” he said. “They work together with the network and will cover more area than a traditional tower.”

Nine antennas will be installed, according to the proposal, primarily on existing traffic signals, such as the corner of Colonnade and Waddle Road or at the entrance to Kohl’s.

Ritter also verified the signal will be within general population radio frequency emission safety limits.

The motion approving the antennas and cable was tempered with the condition that the township come to a mutually acceptable agreement that when Crown Castle begins the installation of the fiber optic cable, either fiber or a conduit can also be installed at the same time for use by the township, according to Supervisor Jeff Luck.