AT&T set to install new cell towers in Frisco

AT&T is planning to install two new cell towers in Frisco over the next two months.
File photo |

FRISCO — Relief is on the way for AT&T customers frustrated with the carrier’s service in town.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, AT&T announced that it would be installing two new cell towers in Frisco, meant to help ease the load on the macro tower on Dillon Dam Road and provide lasting solutions to coverage issues in town. Frisco’s Marketing and Communication’s Director Vanessa Agee said community members began voicing concerns this summer after a noticeable decline in service.

“We started hearing some pretty significant complaints from citizens in July regarding AT&T coverage in town, and it felt like something had just changed and coverage had gotten significantly worse,” Agee said. “At that point, we got in touch with AT&T, explained what the issues were, and they started working on solutions.”

Frisco doesn’t have any regulatory power over service providers, but Agee said that AT&T was quick to respond to concerns voiced by the town along with the people who live and work in the area, getting to work immediately on short- and long-term fixes.

In August, the company started making software and hardware upgrades to some of its existing sites in town and kicked off the design process for two new rooftop tower installations. Funding was approved earlier this week to place new towers at the public works building on School Road and at the fire station on Teller Street.

“These changes and future investments, along with recent software upgrades, will bring improved coverage to Frisco residents, visitors and first responders through faster speeds and better voice quality with 4G LTE,” said Guillermo Lambarri, state director of external and legislative affairs with AT&T. “We will continue to work with public officials to find solutions that work best for our customers here.”

Agee said the new towers should create a rectangle of improved coverage along Colorado Highway 9 between the County Commons and Interstate 70, which would in turn help improve coverage in other areas of the town.

“These towers combined could cover 1,600 people doing something on their cellphones, whether it’s texting or calling,” Agee said. “It takes pressure off that macro tower and should decrease some of those issues they’ve had with traffic on that tower.”

AT&T is still designing the new towers, and the town will have to sign off on them before they go up. But Agee called the permitting process a small hurdle and said the new towers are expected to be operational within the next two months.

Agee called the planned installations a step in the right direction, but noted that there was still more work to be done to improve the town’s communication’s infrastructure, including ongoing efforts to develop a fiber optic network.

“There are some other things that I think are going to help with cell coverage that the town can do and is doing,” Agee said. “That’s burying conduit, putting in fiber and working toward our own fiber network to hopefully have better internet coverage for the whole town, and folks can take some pressure off of their cellphones and those towers. It all works together.”

The town has been taking advantage of its “dig once” policy to lay fiber conduit throughout town, but Agee said there aren’t currently any plans to move forward with the actual fiber installations anytime soon.

Agee said the town currently has $200,000 budgeted for communication infrastructure projects next year. If approved, the town might be spending a chunk of that money on consulting and planning efforts to determine how best to lay out the town’s fiber network.

AT&T is also planning on installing two additional small cell towers on Frisco’s Main Street next summer, which Agee said likely would be incorporated into lampposts to remain discreet. Small-cell technology arriving in Frisco, and the rest of Summit County, is an inevitability as the Federal Communications Commission rushes to accelerate the development of future 5G infrastructure around the country.

Agee said the 2021 towers would support only 4G services until AT&T decides to begin attaching fiber optic lines to their local hardware and upgrading to 5G in the area.

But for now, the incoming upgrades are a welcome change for AT&T customers in town.

“It’s really nice when you can dial your phone and it works,” Agee said. “We’re excited for our citizens to get the service they’re paying for, and we commend AT&T for jumping on it so quickly.”

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