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Aiken County to see boost in wireless coverage

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AT&T is boosting wireless coverage in rural areas of Aiken County as part of the company’s $14 billion expansion of service for customers across the nation.

Boston-based American Tower Corp. will build four AT&T wireless telecommunications towers on large wooded lots in Wagener, Windsor and Salley, where current coverage is sparse. The towers, varying in height from 250 feet to 300 feet, are required to have access for at least three competing carriers to locate on the structure, said Stephen Strohminger, the director of Aiken County Planning and Development.

“You have two spots in the whole eastern third of the county where you get OK reception, right in downtown Wagener and the other is right around Monetta,” Strohminger said. “Once you get five miles or so outside the city limits of Aiken, it still works for a while but then it starts getting patchy. The signal isn’t something you can count on.”

The new towers will put eastern portions of Aiken County on the same wireless playing field as its western sections, he said.

The investment is funded through AT&T’s Project Velocity IP, a three-year program launched last November to enhance the company’s national wired and wireless IP broadband network, said AT&T spokeswoman Stephanie Smith.

“The investment is intended to support growing customer demand for high-speed Internet access and new mobile, app and cloud services,” she said.

Since 2010, AT&T has spent more than $4.5 billion in improving Georgia’s wired and wireless networks, with more than $675 million of those funds coming in the first half of 2013, Smith said.

Asked if there were plans to add more towers in the Augusta area, Smith said she didn’t have “anything additional to announce at this time.”

For many in Aiken County, expanding the cell service blueprint is a long time coming.

In 2010, Aiken County officials voted to change the cellphone tower ordinance and allow towers taller than 100 feet to be built within county borders. That was the last year a cellphone tower was built in the county, on Fox Pond Road, Strohminger said.

Construction could begin as early as this year, but a specific date could not be identified. The towers will be built on Wagener Road and Redbank Street in Wagener, Salley Road in Salley and Pearl Bonnet Road in Windsor.


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