Mayor Collins looks to solve Paradise Valley cell phone reception

TPV Municipal Sign

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Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins is asking residents to share their personal cell-phone reception woes in an effort to increase usability throughout the municipality.

Because of the community’s geography and land-use patterns, traditional macro cell sites are limited within town limits. Sloping hillsides and mountains create challenges to the quality of cell phone coverage and how that service can be improved, town officials say.

In 2011 the Town attempted to rectify the issues through new technology known as a distributed antenna system, which consists of a fiber-optic backbone that includes a series of six-foot antenna nodes installed throughout a community improving coverage, voice quality and Internet access of cell phones, according to Independent records.

As a solution, 42 antenna nodes had been installed throughout Paradise Valley embedded within faux cacti.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, Mayor Collins sent an e-mailed asking friends and neighbors for their help, stating the faux cacti have not solved the problem.

“Do you have poor cell phone reception at home, or have a story of how poor cell phone reception has impacted your quality of life here in Paradise Valley?” the e-mail read. “If so please share your story with me.”

The e-mail states that town council will be discussion topics important to residents’ quality of life in the springtime, and that Town Manager Kevin Burke and Mayor Collins will be taking the lead on the topic of cell phone coverage. The problem even extends to the town police department, where they “bear the cost of two cellular carriers because no single carrier provides good enough coverage for law enforcement communications across the entire town,” the e-mail states.

The issue is bigger and more widespread then Mayor Collins originally thought, he said.

“I’ve heard from hundreds of residents on this topic recently, and common threads in a majority of the feedback have been poor cell phone coverage at home and dropped calls happening everyday all across town,” said Mayor Collins in a Feb. 16 e-mailed response to questions. “It has been both eye-opening and troubling to learn that so many other residents like me have been dissatisfied with cell phone coverage in PV for many years now.”

Mayor Collins said he and Mr. Burke are working with industry executives to try and fully understand the technical nature of the challenge.

“We will then explore whatever political or market challenges exist that could hinder finding a perfect solution,” Mayor Collins said. “We plan to present the full town council with a summary of our findings and an outline of potential solutions, with the hopes that the town council will approve an appropriate course of action for improving cell phone cover in PV.”

One response Mayor Collins received, was penned by Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paradise Valley-Scottsdale Area General Manager, Doug Heaton.

“The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paradise Valley-Scottsdale, located within the boundaries of Paradise Valley and to whom pays substantial tax dollars, has had and continues to have terrible cell coverage for its guests and team members,” Mr. Heaton’s e-mail reads. “Due to the weak signal and the configuration and composition of the property, there are many areas of the resort that get no cell service at all.”

The cell phone reception problem is simply unacceptable, Mayor Collins said.

“We can do better.”

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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