Ocean City Tourists’ Wireless Use Equals 17 Super Bowls

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The sun, the surf, the sand – and the massive influx of tourists who show up each summer to enjoy them all. Shore towns and vacation spots that experience an ebb and flow in population have unique demands on their resources, from salt water taffy to internet service, and there should be enough for everyone. Ocean City, Maryland and Crown Castle are working together to find ways to increase cell service for all without peppering the town with towers that would not see much use off-season, reports MDCoastDispatch.com.

Debating the wireless issue since 2015, the town and telecom provider have mulled over several different scenarios, each with highlights and drawbacks. A proposal to add 90 DAS units throughout the resort would boost service, but does not meet with approval from many of the waterfront communities. Rolling in a herd of COWS (cells on wheels) allows the town to handle the increased usage demands in the summer, but does not provide the quality and reliability of service that towers can support.

Attempting to find a middle ground, Crown Castle suggested nine small towers as an anchor for cell service that is strong enough to withstand the seasonal surge in use.  “Just like Super Bowl sites have to prepare for the inundation of the host city, you have to prepare for the inundation of your wireless service in the height of summer,” Crown Castle Government Relations Specialist Trey Spear said. “The demand on your wireless service in July is the equivalent of 17 Super Bowls.”  COWS would still provide back-up for the nine towers.

Some council members expressed skepticism, suggesting that Crown Castle’s only motivation for building towers is to make more money. Others wondered why they couldn’t simply rely on the COWS. However councilman Dennis Dare said the COWS were not a permanent solution and would not serve the town’s long term needs. “Where wireless communication is going, the sky’s the limit,” he said. “It’s expanding greatly and the growth is tremendous. Temporary things like COWS won’t keep up.”

Dare encouraged fellow council members to continue working with Crown Castle. “The FCC has said this is small cell tower installation, and we don’t have a lot of say in some of these things,” he stated. “They [Crown] are a public utility and, therefore, have a right to do some of these things without our approval. We can regulate what is in our right-of-way, but we can’t regulate all of this.”

February 4, 2019   

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