UMBC’s Division of Information Technology recently announced that construction of a new communications tower is slated to begin. The motive for the renovation is to replace the previous tower located behind the Baltimore County Courthouse by the Walker Avenue Apartments.
The original communications tower was built back in the early 1980s in order to support local instructional television broadcasting within the University of Maryland System. Since then, the tower has mainly served as a cellular service provider to the UMBC campus as well as the surrounding communities in the vicinity.
However, in that time, the Federal Communications Commission updated safety regulations regarding the amount of weight towers could hold. At that moment in time, UMBC was at its limits with the communications tower; cellular carriers were unable to equip to the tower in order to support the rising demands of nearby smart phone users. As a result, cellular service at the UMBC campus had been over subscribed – a result which found itself to be even more problematic with a numerous amount of users connecting to the tower during peak hours when students returned to the campus.
Then, in 2012, the Department of Information Technology worked with UMBC Administrative Affairs and facilities in order to obtain a construction loan. The said construction loan would then be used to build a new communications tower for the area in order to satisfy previous cellular demands. As of now, the DoIT spent the last two years working with the FCC and cellular carriers to finalize the details of the new communications tower construction site in order to tackle the issue.
The new communications tower will be wider at the base and self-supporting, meaning that it will not require guide wires like the original tower. The new tower will also match the height of its former, but will be able to support significantly more weight.
Since the announcement was released in early August, the DoIT said that they expect the construction of the new tower to be completed by the end of August. In addition to the announcement made by the DoIT, it was shown that the new communications tower had already been erected at its new location.
Establishment of the new tower is still undergoing according to announcements made by Walker Avenue Apartments Management. According to Walker Avenue Apartments Management, UMBC expected Verizon and AT&T to deliver materials for the new communications tower some time between Sept. 19 and Sept. 20.
Once cellular carriers have successfully transitioned their equipment to the new communications tower, the original communications tower is to be taken down within the first half of 2017.
Of course with the establishment of a new communications tower – a cellular signal hotspot – it is expected that later this Fall, UMBC campus users should see dramatic improvements in cellular services. According to the DoIT, the improvements in cellular services are increasingly important as a campus safety resource for emergency notifications in dire situations.