UPDATE Inside Towers reported in May about how Ocean City officials recently changed course and approved a revised proposal by Crown Castle to install up to 12 new towers along the boardwalk. The south end of the resort can benefit from expanded service from carriers like Verizon and Sprint, especially during the busy summer season.
After the initial proposal was rejected this April because of aesthetic concerns, Crown Castle was asked to go back to the drawing board. Working with City Engineer Terry McGean and City Manager Doug Miller, the revised proposal includes camouflaging antennas mounted on existing infrastructure on the boardwalk such as sign posts and light fixtures. Additionally, Crown Castle is adding security cameras and increased lighting (and picking up the expense) , reported The Dispatch.
According to McGean, “The Mayor and Council had concerns about aesthetics, particularly on the Boardwalk. Crown Castle has come back with a proposal they believe will address the council’s concerns.”
It’s important for the DAS antennas to be installed near the beach and boardwalk – not high up on buildings or water towers – to improve service. Crown Castle’s Richard Rothrock explained, “These are equipped to handle more than one carrier. The small cells are ideal for areas with geographic issues, like buildings or other natural features that block the signal. Large crowds overwhelm the capacity of the larger towers in densely populated areas, which is what you have here in the summer.”
Some council members were still unsatisfied with the revised proposal, expecting Crown Castle to keep the infrastructure off the boardwalk. Councilman Matt James commented, “I’m surprised you came back with a similar proposal. You mentioned your carriers, but we have people we’re responsible to also and I don’t think they want these poles. I think this is the wrong direction for Ocean City.”
Another Councilman, Dennis Dare, is concerned about the aesthetics of the cabinet infrastructure. “Those that are mounted on light poles aren’t aesthetically displeasing,” he said. “What I don’t want to see is more of those cabinets at ground level. I don’t like the cabinets that are existing and don’t want to add more.” Crown Castle pointed to the portion of the proposal regarding housing cabinets in a decorative “integrated base” on the poles mimicking the base of the traditional light poles along the boardwalk.
But a bigger concern overall is still regarding coverage. Crown Castle’s J.D. McCloskey noted, “There has been six times more traffic in the last three years, and there will be six times more traffic in the next three years. We want to give your residents and guests the quality of service they have come to expect. Everybody is carrying smart phones and mobile devices.”
July 14, 2017