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Allentown rejects Verizon request for possible upgrades

By Mark Rosman
Staff Writer

ALLENTOWN – The Borough Council has rejected a proposal from Verizon Wireless, which sought permission for its employees to enter Allentown’s right of way to determine if new technology is needed in order to provide more reliable mobile phone service in the community.

A resolution rejecting the company’s request was passed by the council on March 28. The action came one month after Larry Morgan, of Tilson Technology Management, addressed the governing body on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

Morgan asked for municipal consent so Verizon Wireless employees would be permitted to enter the right of way and to survey the borough in order to determine if small network nodes should be placed on existing wooden utility poles. A node is a small metal box-like antenna.

He said mobile phone customers are using their phones for much more than voice communication and many of those other uses involve data. Infrastructure such as cellular communications towers and antennas provides coverage, but data usage “soaks up the signal,” Morgan said.

Morgan described the nodes as technology that enhances signal strength where people congregate and use mobile phones. He said it would be an asset to the community to have a strong, steady signal.

However, several members of the council expressed concerns about the visual impact that additional technology would have on Allentown’s historic views. They said making space available to Verizon Wireless could force them to do the same for other carriers.

Council President Wil Borkowski and council members Angela Anthony, Robert Schmitt and Thomas Fritts voted to reject Verizon Wireless’ request. Council members Rob Strovinsky and Johnna Stinemire were absent.

In other business, the council created a traffic consultant interview committee that will serve in an advisory capacity to borough officials. Patricia Brown, Ann Garrison and Julie Reid were appointed to the committee.

In a resolution, council members said they “recognize that the traffic issues destroying Allentown’s infrastructure, which increasingly puts into danger the public safety of its residents, business owners, patrons and visitors to the area, need to be addressed by a professional traffic consultant.”

The traffic consultant interview committee will provide advisory feedback to the council on the hiring of a traffic consultant, according to the resolution, which authorizes a formal request for qualifications for a traffic consultant to be developed and candidates for the position to be solicited.

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