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Langley gets stronger signal with cell antenna

A construction crew installs the antenna assembly Tuesday for a Sprint PCS cellular phone facility at the corner of Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue in Langley. - Matt Johnson
A construction crew installs the antenna assembly Tuesday for a Sprint PCS cellular phone facility at the corner of Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue in Langley.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Workmen equipped with boom trucks and pieces of telecommunications equipment filled in what Sprint PCS calls a "hole" in its cellular phone service this week by erecting a new antenna array near the city's downtown.

Its arrival promises to be a boon for Sprint cell phone userLangley gets stronger signal with cell antenna

s, but a blight to a vocal opposition to cellular facilities.

The array, which was built into an electrical power pole at the corner of Sixth Street and Cascade Avenue, is the second of its type to go up within city limits during the past year. Called a power pole "switch out," the installation is one of just a few allowed by city code. Extending 15 feet higher than a conventional power pole, the new cellular antenna takes the place of an old pole and is intended to blend into its surroundings.

Kris Conaxis, a regional manager for W&H Pacific, said Wednesday his company acquired pole space from Puget Sound Energy and a small amount of rental property from the Langley Christian and Missionary Alliance Church for the installation. Under permit review starting in June 2001, the cellular transmitter won approval from the city's planning department last fall. Conaxis said the pole and its flush-mounted antennae will not be visibly obtrusive. He also said it will boost signal strength for Sprint PCS customers in and around Langley. It was customer feedback, plus some computer modeling at Sprint, that prompted the company to erect the new pole.

"It should do a pretty good job," Conaxis said.

Not as pleased about the new antenna pole was Fred Geisler. A Langley resident and owner of a discount long-distance company called Island Assets, Geisler called the installation "awful."

"I think it would have been awfully nice of the church to tell the community," he said.

Those opposing cellular facilities on the island recently argue the installations are harmful to the health of humans and animals.

Jerry Knapp, Langley's land use official, said this week that the new installation comes some months after another cellular company built its own cellular facility into a power pole along Sixth Street and on land owned by Ray Fossek.

Both Puget Sound Energy and the CMA Church will benefit financially from the Sprint PCS pole. The telecommunications company will pay both parties a rental fee for use of their property.

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