American Tower Talks Trash in Martha’s Vineyard

American Tower (AMT) has developed a WiFi network using solar-powered, Bigbelly trash cans, dubbed TelecomTrash Stations. The two-year pilot program began in the summer of 2016, on Menemsha Beach in Martha’s Vineyard and was approved by the Chilmark selectmen.

After a successful first year pilot, upgrades are being made to the TelecomTrash Stations for the 2017 season, reported the Vineyard Gazette. American Tower is considering adding a weather station, a traffic counter, and security cameras to its infrastructure. The additional equipment gives AMT insight into the bandwidth capacity of their platform. These modifications are pending agreement and currently under review by the town council and the town’s insurer. 

David Fox, American Tower director of business told the MV Times, “By using the TelecomTrash Stations, AMT can offer commercial grade WiFi to beachgoers, boaters and the town while being able to provide additional non-telecom benefits. This joint partnership trial could accelerate real commercial deployments by introducing cost savings, revenue sharing opportunities, and subsidized services to municipalities.”

American Tower is slated to make a $100,000 investment in the “Stations” project, with minimal revenue generated. “This project is solely a proof-of-concept,” said Fox.

The concept takes Bigbelly trash cans, which compact trash by harnessing solar power, and modifies the design so they operate as WiFi stations. American Tower provides the connectivity and end-to-end service; the island towns provide free power and grant permits.

The project covers four locations on Menemsha Beach. Chilmark Executive Secretary Timothy Carroll stated, “We want WiFi service for the harbor and the customers because we don’t have telephone service for them down there anymore, they don’t have internet, so they were looking for something more affordable than their cell phones.”

“We reserve the right to be able to provide public WiFi until such a time as American Tower, or one of their subtenants, choose to provide it commercially,” Carroll added. He believes there’s an economic benefit to the remote WiFi stations. In the summertime, their coverage will encourage more beachgoers to frequent the area, provide connectivity for the harbor fishermen and boaters, plus serve the town’s infrastructure needs.

May 17, 2017      


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