New Cellular Tower Planned For Joppatowne Designed To Close Critical Gap In Coverage And Increase Capacity For Community


Approximately 80% of the 240 million calls made to 9-1-1 on an annual basis originate from wireless devices, according to the National Emergency Number Association

A new cellular tower proposed for Joppatowne on a parking lot at 626 Towne Centre Drive at Rumsey Towers, is specifically designed to close a critical gap in wireless communications coverage that presently exists in the Harford County community, as well as to increase the capacity of the system. A byproduct of this effort is the improved consistency of calls made by emergency personnel, as well as connections to 9-1-1 by wireless device users. According to statistics from the National Emergency Number Association, approximately 80% of the 240 million calls made annually to 9-1-1 to alert first responders to an on-going emergency situation originate from a wireless device. Failure to address this coverage gap places the community at risk on a daily basis, according to officials at Prime Tower Development.

“Consumers are inconvenienced by dropped cellular calls due to gaps in wireless coverage due to insufficient cell tower placements, but this can become a life or death situation when an emergency call from a wireless device to 9-1-1 does not reach its destination,” explained Steve Handmaker, a principal with Prime Tower Development. “This coverage hole takes on increased importance based on the use of wireless devices by first responders including police, fire department and ambulance services as a primary form of communication. Most of us take for granted that every cellphone call reaches its intended destination. When the quality of the wireless call is negatively impacted, or the call is unable to make a connection at all due to the lack of cell towers, the entire community remains at risk. Another issue to consider is the capacity of the existing system. Adding several strategically-placed tower locations increases the speed and available volume of the local network.”

The proposed cell tower in Joppatowne will extend approximately 120 feet in the air, as compared to comparable towers in rural areas that typically reach a height of nearly 200 feet tall. According to Keith Peck of Prime Tower Development, this particular tower will be constructed of galvanized steel that prevents rusting and also blends into the neighboring surroundings by picking up colors from blue skies and green trees.

“There have been some attempts to disguise cell towers to make them appear as trees, but the results have underwhelmed with the final product appearing fake and only exacerbating the problem,” explained Keith Peck. “We find that the galvanized steel approach works most effectively, as the material does not produce glare, even on the sunniest of days. In addition, the effort to cram all the necessary equipment into an oversized flagpole is counterproductive as it degrades the performance of the tower. We believe daily performance and reliability should be paramount in any construction exercise.”

The cellular industry as a whole is currently focusing on capacity gaps that exist around the country, including Joppatowne, as it works to bulk up wireless bandwidth for the future.
“Currently, there exists more than 6.3 billion mobile phone users worldwide, but with the increased dependence on iPhones, tablets, smart watches and emerging technology, an expected 16 billion devices will be in use within the next three years,” added John Behnke, a Prime Tower Development cell tower specialist working in Memphis, Tennessee. “To handle this significantly increased requirement, the country needs more cell tower coverage and our continuing goal is to remain ahead of the curve.”

Peck also explained the importance of having working cellular systems, based on the recent situation that occurred as the result of Hurricane Harvey. “The storm knocked out all land lines, but cellular service remained intact,” he said. “As a result, people were able to call 9-1-1 and lives were saved. This is a current example of the public need for these networks which are only viable with cellular towers.”

Prime Tower Development will host a public meeting at the Joppa Public Library, located at 655 Towne Center Drive, on Tuesday, September 19 from 6 pm to 8 pm, to generate input from the community on this project.

Michael Leaf of Pessin Katz Law, P.A. (PK Law), Prime Tower's local attorney, advises that no applications for zoning approval or permits have been filed, and none will be filed until after comments from citizens have been fully considered.

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