New cell towers to be built near campus

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August 28, 2009

2:30 AM

Cell reception on the College of William and Mary campus should soon improve.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission approved an application from Colonial Williamsburg at its Aug. 19 meeting to construct two “slick poles” and three hidden cell receivers.

“The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the City of Williamsburg and the College … have been working together to develop a solution to the problem of inadequate cellular telephone reception in the historic area [and] on the William and Mary campus,” Deputy Planning Director Carolyn Murphy told the Planning Commission.

Unlike traditional cell phone towers, slick poles have transceiver equipment in their flagpole-like structure and can blend into the surrounding environment.

One pole will be placed next to the CW Visitors Center; the other next to the old Craft House, a support building on South England Street not frequented by tourists.

Three more receivers will be hidden in cupolas at the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol building and the College Corner Building, located at the corner of Duke of Gloucester and South Boundary Streets.

During the public hearing, the commission questioned why more towers are necessary.

CW Director of Information Technology Doug Marty told the commission that coverage is low for the high-density historic area during normal days. At popular events such as Grand Illumination, calls can take
40 to 50 minutes to complete. The new towers could allow for hundreds more calls to be placed at any given time.

Greater coverage would also assist the College during emergency situations, he said, allowing more calls to be made from the campus.

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