Verizon Wireless looks to upgrade cell service in Salt Creek Canyon
By Doug Love
FOUNTAIN GREEN—If all goes according to plan, residents in and around Fountain Green will be getting improved cell phone service in the next year or so, and the city will be getting a financial windfall.
Verizon’s long range plan is to follow the proposed new tower in Fountain Green with others to eventually be built going down the canyon so that in the future everyone traveling up and down Salt Creek canyon between Fountain Green and Nephi will have cell phone service available in the 10-14 mile stretch of S.R.132 that is now a dead zone.
Fountain Green’s city council unanimously voted to accept, at their regular Feb. 21 meeting, the proposal made a month earlier, at the council’s meeting in January, by Verizon representative, Dan Thurgood.
That proposal envisions Verizon paying the city some $1,200 per month ($14,000 per year) for a 25-year lease on city property where a 100-foot cell tower can be located.
Thurgood and city staffer Roger Aagard found a suitable site next to city’s water tank house and headhouse north of town and below the state’s fish hatchery operation.
The council’s unanimous decision to approve of that particular location chosen by Thurgood will serve as his signal to turn the new tower project over to a Verizon engineering and construction team for further study before the lease agreement is actually signed and the city starts receiving its new monthly revenue.
Fountain Green Mayor Willard Wood calls the proposed new cell tower “a great step in the right direction for eventually adding the safety of cell phone service for everyone traveling up and down the canyon between our town and Nephi. Naturally, the fact that Fountain Green will also make some additional money is a good thing, too. But, in my view, making the canyon safer is the more important outcome.”
For years, many Fountain Green residents preferred Verizon’s service to others available in the area. However, since the company began using its new tower in Chester, near Pigeon Hollow, some Fountain Green customers have complained that their Verizon signal was no longer as good as it had been when they got service from a cell tower northwest of Fairview.
Queries to Verizon from unhappy Fountain Green customers like Aspen Lightfoot, who lives within sight of city hall, revealed that the distance from Chester to Fountain Green is well beyond the 5-mile radius considered ideal for excellent reception and transmission. Unhappy Verizon customers like Lightfoot have been able to regain some of their lost bars of service by adding a 4G signal extender/enhancer that uses GPS to strengthen Wi-Fi around the house and yard.
Sadly, many cell phone customers of any and every wireless service providers in Sanpete—not just Verizon—are unhappy all too often. The hilly topography and long Y-shaped layout make it difficult for any company to provide all its customers with uniformly good service everywhere.
According to Verizon spokesperson, Steve Van Dinter, today’s pressing service problems are most often the result from a lack of enough towers to provide sufficient capacity. “Now days,” says Van Dinter, “everyone is in the habit using their cell phone for so many more things—and so much more often—that Verizon needs to build towers as fast as possible in order to keep up with the demand. So, we especially appreciate the cooperation of government units, like Fountain Green City, in helping us site a new tower to improve service in the immediate area. In the case of Fountain Green, that new tower will also start us moving toward provision of cell service in the canyon where none exists at present.”
Indeed, it appears that Verizon, as well as all other cell service providers in Sanpete County, are working to increase the number of bars showing on their customers’ phones by constructing more cell towers that will improve system capacity in addition to signal proximity.