Town Selects Homeland Towers To Proactively Address Wireless Dead Spots


The Town of New Canaan has selected Homeland Towers to draw up plans for bringing in more cellular coverage in town.

The company, as its main service, “performs a full assessment of the state of wireless communications in any municipality through the measurement of existing wireless coverage, and performs an in-depth qualification process to identify objectively good candidates for the placement of wireless communications facilities,” according to its website.

Part of the purpose in doing that is to help towns get better “control and leverage over siting issues,” which is exactly what New Canaan wants.

The firm is one of five that responded to a Request For Proposal (RFP) from the town which was sent out in March. In an update to the Board of Selectmen last Tuesday, Tom Tesluk, chairman of the all-volunteer Utilities Commission, said two of the firms that replied were disqualified right up front. However, three were asked to “come back to present more info and to have intense discussions regarding what the town really wanted.”

After that, the three contenders were “scored” using a set of criteria developed by the town “and we chose one based on points awarded, and that was Homeland Tower.”

Tesluk said by being proactive and coming up with its own plan for addressing gaps in wireless coverage, the town can have better control over how future tower projects are handled.

As per the RFP, the town seeks to “provide consistent mobile wireless communication reception throughout the town,” but, importantly, it seeks to do so using “design infrastructure within the parameters of the town’s desired aesthetic preferences.”

This includes minimizing “the use and proliferation of conventional wireless towers whenever feasible.”

“The town is seeking creative solutions from proposers to maximize capacity and increase wireless services in underserved areas while keeping with the town’s height and aesthetic preferences for minimal visual impact,” the RFP states.

Specifically, the town seeks to limit the use of macro cell sites – these are generally what are known as cell towers. However, if these macro sites must be used – and it is assumed they will be needed – the town is requesting that the tower heights be held to under 110 feet.

Beyond that, the town is pushing for the use of micro cell sites, which are towers that are 40 feet tall or less. These towers can be used in conjunction with even smaller antenna that can be mounted on telephone poles are even suspended on telephone lines, Tesluk said during his update.

Possible locations for macro cell sites, as per the RFP, include the town Transfer Station, West School, the Nature Center, Irwin Park, Mead Park, the Talmadge Lot, Kiwanis Park and the Clark Property.

“It has been well established that the town lacks reliable, if any, wireless service along the western third of Town (west of Weed Street and Route 124) and the northern quadrant,” the RFP states. “Using the recently constructed Silver Hill site as an example, a 110-foot slick-stick monopole design represents the maximum height and type of conventional macrocell infrastructure that the town prefers within non-residential areas. Concealed, microcell/DAS type infrastructure is preferred within residential areas with a maximum height of 45 feet. Improved wireless coverage with the least visual impact is highest priority for the Town. Town property would be available for DAS Hub locations.”

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said “this is just the beginning of the approval process – the town council will still need to decide on which parcels will be leased – this is the overriding agreement which allows these folks to go out and start soliciting on our behalf…”

It is also important to note that although the town and Homeland Towers will be drawing up the plans, it doesn’t necessarily mean a wireless carrier will express interest in building or leasing the proposed additional infrastructure to improve gap coverage.

As Tesluk explained, what the commission has drafted thus far is the “master lease agreement, which sets general terms and conditions and, most importantly, requires that whatever is built under these lease agreements has to comply with the RFP, which is very important, as the RFP sets aesthetic and technical limitations for what can be built in town.”

“The second part is the ground lease agreement,” he added. “That is what really governs the development and construction of what we call stealth macro sites… which is a site that can be no more than 110 feet high and which is positioned and designed in way that has minimal impact on the view shed in town.”

Tesluk said the process began last year when the town hired the firm Cityscape to measure and record the radio signal topography for the town. That basically identified the dead spots throughout town and where coverage was needed.

Now, the town has found a firm that can help it develop a solid plan for what infrastructure is needed to address this gaps, he said.

As Mallozzi explained, Homeland Towers already works with all the major carriers, so it is in a good position to help the town find a carrier or carriers to support the project.

“Basically what we’ve done is we’ve gone to Homeland Towers and said ‘OK, you’re the one who goes out a talks with the carriers, this is the type of product we’re looking for, and this is the coverage that we’re looking to fill… ,’ and there’s an agreement where, Homeland gets some dollars out of it, as does the town,” Mallozzi said.

“It’s a big deal … but it is done extremely professionally and it’s being done with a firm that has a good reputation in the business for getting these deals done,” he added. “They just did Easton as a matter of fact.”

There was no discussion as to how Homeland Towers would be paid in exchange for its services or how that works.

Tesluk said what the town is doing, in terms of proactively coming up with its own plan to address cell coverage, “is fairly unique.”

“We’ve taken the approach that the town has first to be informed about what its requirements actually are,” he said. “In the past, the town had no independent means for judging what was required and where it was required, in terms of new cell sites. We changed all that a few years ago when we commissioned Centerline to do [the previous study] here in town. And, in addition to that we were able to retain Cityscape Consultants, in Florida, which makes their business advising governments just like ours on how to go through the process of develop wireless infrastructure and most importantly negotiating with tower developers and carriers. With their assistance we were able to come up with these draft agreements.”

“But as far as know, this is fairly unique within the state of Connecticut,” Tesluk said. “We do not know of any other municipality that has taken this approach to resolve coverage problems comprehensively rather than one site at a time.”

Mallozzi said it is better than “waiting for AT&T to come tell us we need a 140-foot tower there …”

Tesluk said as part of the proposal, the commission is “proposing that Planning & Zoning undertake some revisions to the town regulations that will create a transparent process by which developers and carriers can look at the town and say, ‘I see a very clear path, all I need to do is A, B, C and D, and if I do all these things, I’ll be able to get the permits I need to be able to do these installations.'”

Selectman Nick Williams asked Tesluk if the infrastructure would be built for just one carrier or for all of them.

“We would hope that Homeland would be able to attract multiple carriers,” Tesluk said. “There are four carriers that currently serving the town. And we would like to see all four take advantage of these facilities.”

2 thoughts on “Town Selects Homeland Towers To Proactively Address Wireless Dead Spots

  1. Check-Out Enersphere Communications they have a new product called an” ePole” its being used across the country for this exact reason…… Town are fed up with ugly looking towers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *