AT&T gets approval for more cell towers

Published on Thursday, 23 January 2014 00:37 - Written by By Kelly Gooch

Mobile devices are commonplace as students gather inside the Rogers Student Center at Tyler Junior College.

At many tables, phones are either being used or sitting in front of students.

Sophomore Lani Loving, 19, was on Instagram, while at least one other student appeared to be texting.

Ms. Loving uses her phone for various things, such as logging onto the school’s website, email and listening to music.

Freshman Simone Henderson, 24, uses her phone for school, email and staying in touch with out-of-state family, among other things, and sophomore Kristen Kirk, 20, described hers as “a walking computer” that she can use to play games or look up words using a dictionary application.

“I have my phone in my hand morning until night,” Ms. Henderson said.

These students are not alone in their use of mobile devices.

AT&T spokeswoman Lisa Glass said via email that demand for wireless service is up, so AT&T must build new cell sites in order to meet the demand. 

So AT&T requested special-use permits for new 150-foot towers to be placed in the 4900 block of Hightech Drive, in the 2600 block of Smith Street and in the 2600 block of McDonald Road. The permits were approved during Wednesday’s Tyler City Council meeting. Tyler currently has about 20 AT&T cell sites, according to Ms. Glass. 

Ms. Glass said via email that the new cell sites “will enable families and employers in Tyler to get better connected wherever they are.”

“Wireless and high speed broadband has many positive benefits for residents and vital institutions like schools, hospitals and police and fire departments,” she wrote. “New and upgraded infrastructure delivers community benefits, including enhanced public safety, improved access to education and health care, as well as economic development opportunities.

“We applaud the Tyler City Council for providing their constituents new ways to connect and providing a streamlined process that allows for investment and infrastructure.”

When a provider applies for a special-use permit for a tower, the city looks at what “significant structures,” like publicly or privately owned buildings, are within one-half mile of the proposed tower site, city of Tyler Planning Director Heather Nick said.

She said the information is used to determine where there is a possibility of co-location, meaning multiple providers using the same tower.

“There is an attempt to make sure you are doing that co-location and you’re not erecting towers where you don’t need to,” she said.

Still, she said co-location is not always possible because there is a limit on how many carriers can be on a specific tower.

According to the Unified Development Code, new towers are not allowed in residential districts.

Ms. Glass said via email that a timeline for construction is still being determined.