HOOKSETT — Residents with chronically poor cellular reception may get some relief after the Zoning Board’s approval of a new cell tower that developers hope to construct on a 12.5-acre parcel of land at 180 Londonderry Turnpike.
Varsity Wireless, a Boston-based company that provides infrastructure services to every national wireless provider, received unanimous approval for a special exception to construct the 140-foot cell tower on the Londonderry Turnpike parcel.
Varsity was required to obtain a special exception because the proposed location is zoned as a commercial district.
Prior to breaking ground on the tower, Varsity will need to obtain approval from the town’s Planning Board, which Varsity engineering manager James Donahue said his company plans to seek as soon as the board’s next meeting on November 19th.
On October 28th, Varsity launched a balloon from the Londonderry Turnpike parcel to the proposed height of the tower to test how visible the tower would be from the point of view of 18 locations within a 1-mile radius of the structure.
In a report detailing the results of the test presented to the board by Varsity on Tuesday night, it was found that the structure would be completely hidden from all but four of the 18 tested locations.
No area residents came out to speak against the tower’s construction, which Donahue said was evidence of popular support for expanding cell service in the Hooksett area.
The tower would be the fifth of its kind in Hooksett and the only one belonging to Varsity.
Donahue says he suspects that poor cell service in the Hooksett area is likely the result of the town’s topography.
Sprint is currently the only wireless carrier set to put an antenna on Varsity’s Londonderry Turnpike tower, but Donahue said that could likely change due to the cost benefit of co-locating an antenna on a third party cell tower.
“The carriers, in some cases, they still build their own towers because they want more control of their development programs,” Donahue said.
“But if companies like us are out there doing it, it preserves their capital so they can spend more money on their switching equipment and things like that as opposed to real estate costs. We’re sort of like a real estate developer, but instead of building an office building and getting tenants we build a tower and we try to get AT&T, T Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon on there.”