Alaska Wireless Network Runs into Barriers in Attempt to Build Telecommunications Tower

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alaska Wireless Network, a subsidiary of GCI, has dedicated about eight months to getting permissions to construct a telecommunications tower.

That’s according to Community Development Director Sara Mason, who explained at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly regular meeting Thursday night that the company needs a variance because the structure would exceed the 50 foot height limit. At the meeting, the assembly heard a board of adjustment appeal case about the 67 foot would-be telecommunications tower.

Among the issues P & Z listed, according to the meeting packet, was the tower’s closeness to nearby properties and potential damage to those parcels due to the fall radius.

Mark Moderow, senior consul from GCI, explained his side of the case to the assembly and said GCI submitted a detailed application for the variance.

“We presented overwhelming evidence that I have to reemphasize was unrebutted and uncontested, that there’s a significant gap in the wireless coverage in this area. It includes important facilities like the hospital. It’s the only hospital on the island. It entails major thoroughfares, large swaths of public lands, as well as some residential districts.”

Assemblyman Dan Rohrer asked a follow-up question regarding the timing of the service improvement.

“What is considered adequate coverage? All of us sitting here in this room probably all have cells phones. What’s causing there to all of a sudden not be adequate coverage in the community when Alaska Wireless has certainly been in the community for a long time and has had coverage, why now is it defined as inadequate coverage?”

Moderow said this tower is the last AWN needs to build in order to cover the Kodiak area with 4G or LTE, the current industry standard.

“Voice is degraded, and any signal is degraded by many things, foliage, including inside houses for instance, and so our goal in building our network is that you have con activity inside buildings for such purposes as 911 and, basically, use.”

After the hearing, the assembly decided to reverse the P & Z decision denying the variance. The vote was 5 – 1, with Rohrer against.

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