LIMESTONE, Maine — The days of dropped calls, “dead zones” and roaming charges from picking up Canadian cellular towers while making a call from Limestone are hopefully a thing of the past, thanks to a recent 250-foot addition to the area.
U.S. Cellular contracted Northern Pride Communications out of Topsham to construct a tower in Limestone that will bring better cell phone coverage to Limestone, the Loring Commerce Centre and users along Routes 1A and 89.
According to officials with U.S. Cellular, the tower has a cell radius of about five miles depending on topography. The tower also will improve cellular conditions in Caswell, Caribou, and Fort Fairfield, complementing existing U.S. Cellular towers in Fort Fairfield, Caribou and Van Buren.
“The site is designed to expand coverage to outlying areas and enhance coverage in buildings throughout the community. Previously Limestone was served by a repeater tower which connects networks from surrounding sites,” U.S. Cellular officials explained. “That tower is being replaced by a full tower, offering enhanced building coverage to the town of Limestone as well as providing new coverage to the former Loring Air Force Base.”
Tower construction, which started earlier in October and is expected to be completed within the month, will not only benefit U.S. Cellular customers but all cellular users whose chosen companies have a roaming agreement with U.S. Cellular. The tower is also built to accommodate other carriers if they choose to co-locate their equipment on the tower.
The new Limestone tower is part of U.S. Cellular’s nationwide 3G network, which allows customers to access data on their cell phones approximately 10 times faster than before, according to company officials.
“With 3G speeds, browsing the Web on a smart phone is very similar to the experience on a desktop computer. Web pages open faster and customers can send and receive large e-mail attachments,” they said. “Downloads take less time and picture and video messages are delivered more quickly.”
To select locations for new towers, U.S. Cellular has teams of system performance engineers who regularly drive through the company’s network coverage area — sometimes hundreds of miles a day — to test the signal strength and call quality. While company officials did not indicate how much it cost to erect the tower, it was built with the support of the federal Universal Service Fund, a critical resource for wireless expansion throughout rural parts of the country.