When Hussey Communications, of Winslow, built a new 140-footer in Waterville, ME last September, they knew it would be beneficial to the community providing improved signal capacity to the local police and fire departments. The reaction to it a year later would make them proud.
“It is completely operational,” Police Chief Joseph Massey said of the tower to the Portland Press Herald. “It’s working absolutely fantastic. We’re now able to both transmit and receive our radio communications for this station to the cars, to all the communities out there, and it is just so much better than we had before, obviously.”
The city paid $110,000 for the tower and six base radios, and the City Council recently approved about $7,000 for fencing. Most of the money for the tower came from the city’s general fund, but $12,000 was from a federal Justice Assistance Grant for technology, according to the Portland Press Herald, and $10,000 was from the drug forfeiture fund, according to Massey and City Manager Michael Roy.
The tower became fully operational about five weeks ago when the final antenna was installed on it, Massey said. The city and all the communities the city dispatches for have licenses for the tower from the Federal Communications Commission. Delta Ambulance is using a lower part of the tower for its antenna and a lower level of wattage until it receives its updated FCC license, according to Massey.
The tower is connected to the radio room inside the police department. The FCC regulates how much wattage is used by an agency and thus how high on the tower its antenna can be, Massey said to the Portland Press Herald.
“All our customers have given us feedback,” Massey said. “The signal is stronger, the clarity is much better. It’s a huge improvement. There’s just no question about it. All the antennas are brand new.”
Police Sgt. Bill Bonney said having a new tower installed “is a very big deal.” “We’re going to be able to put new equipment on this tower, which is going to improve communications for us and all of our partner agencies, which is exciting,” Bonney said to centralmaine.com.
The new tower also has improved communications for officers using small, portable radios on their belts, according to Portland Press Herald. “In the past, for instance, an officer on foot traversing hilly terrain or moving around buildings or other obstructions had difficulty sometimes transmitting or receiving on their portable radios, but now they can go anywhere in the city and experience a better, stronger signal,” Massey said.