AT&T goes live on Harpswell cell tower, Verizon next

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HARPSWELL — Local cell-phone users should finally be experiencing an improvement in coverage, thanks to the addition of another service provider on the town’s cellular tower.

According to town officials, AT&T earlier this month completed its equipment installation on the new tower behind the transfer station. That’s good news for AT&T subscribers, including iPhone owners who use the service’s 3G network to send e-mail and access Web-based applications.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Henderson said last week that he recently bought an iPhone in anticipation of AT&T coming online. He said he hasn’t been disappointed.

“As someone who recently made an investment in an iPhone, I’m certainly glad they’re on and functioning,” said Henderson, who lives about a half-mile from the tower. 

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said she’d heard anecdotal evidence that residents all over town seemed to be experiencing better coverage.

The addition of AT&T brings the total number of cell carriers on the tower to two. But given the provider’s marketshare, its addition might be the most noticeable.

U.S. Cellular was the first to join when the tower was completed last fall. Verizon is expected to add equipment this fall.

Many residents have long awaited better coverage, particularly given Harpswell’s propensity for losing electricity and land-line access for extensive periods after storms.

The tower project has taken some time to come to fruition. Discussions with Tower Specialists of Falmouth originally began in 2007, but encountered a series of delays.

“For years people have been talking about it,” Henderson said. “But nobody was exactly racing to get it done. The town has been kind of waiting.”

The tower is of particular importance to the town’s volunteer fire and rescue departments, which last year began collecting bids to install communications equipment there. The same goes for Cumberland County, which provides patrol services through the Sheriff’s Department.

Residents living near Mountain Road are expected to see the biggest improvement in coverage, as well as those along Route 123 and Route 24. There could be some remaining dead spots in southern parts of town, particularly on Bailey’s Island.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or