They Don’t Have to Go Home, But Your Antennas Can’t Stay Here
The Newport, RI School Committee and three wireless providers are locked in a standoff over the removal of equipment from a tower on the Rogers High School campus, following the expiration of the three carriers’ leases. The school committee has written a series of letters since the leases’ expiration, but AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile contend that residents in the area will lose cell phone coverage if they simply remove their equipment, according to Newport This Week.
The school committee decided not to renew the carriers’ contracts in December of 2015, citing complaints from neighbors, and the contracts, which previously brought in approximately $90,000 annually, subsequently expired between June and December of 2017. According to Newport This Week, the district’s legal counsel, Neil Galvin, sent a letter on February 23, ordering the carriers to remove all above-ground infrastructure and return the tower to its pre-lease condition, noting that the district will continue to process payments from the carrier until the equipment is removed.
School committee member David Carlin told Newport This Week that the district had exercised sufficient patience with the carriers and supported Galvin’s letter. “We’ve gone through this for almost three years and I believe the 120 days past the contract end, that each vendor had to remove their equipment, is long past,” Carlin said.
The Newport City Council will now take the lead in resolving the conflict. Last November, council members proposed the construction of a 140-foot tower roughly 900 feet from the existing site to prevent the coverage loss predicted by the carriers.