Portland seeking ways to upgrade cell coverage

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PORTLAND — City properties could soon provide a platform for better cell phone reception, according to City Manager Jon Jennings and Councilor David Brenerman.

“We are interested in working with various companies in expanding cellular coverage for our residents and visitors,” Jennings said July 8.

His remarks came three days after the City Council Economic Development Committee held an executive session “to provide guidance regarding negotiations for small cell technology on city of Portland property.”

Committee Chairman Brenerman declined to elaborate on the nature of the discussions, which included city Finance Director Brendan O’Connell, but did say the committee may have a policy or proposal for public review in September.

Jennings said there is corporate interest in installing small cell technology on city properties.

By definition at smallcellforum.org, small cell technology encompasses a variety of low-powered radio nodes which can enhance Wi-Fi transmission and reception from 10 meters to more than 100 meters away.

According to smallcellforum.org, small cell equipment is part of the Long Term Evolution, or LTE, of wireless broadband speed and accessibility. Jennings said he would like to expand LTE reach throughout the city.

The expansion of small cell technology is part of a larger plan, Jennings said.

“Broadly speaking, we are looking at every conceivable way to better innovate and get better digital capabilities to the city,” he said.

The improvements will also be reflected in how city government responds to residents.

Jennings said the new city Permitting & Inspections Office will be capable of processing and approving permit applications digitally to eliminate the need for a City Hall visit.

He said the city is also looking into ways where parking meters could be paid digitally, eliminating the need for change or credit cards.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.