FENWICK ISLAND – An update on cell service improvements highlighted a recent Fenwick Island committee meeting.
On the agenda for discussion at last month’s Fenwick Island Infrastructure Committee meeting was an update regarding cell service throughout the resort.
In 2017, the town began working with Verizon representatives to improve cell service in Fenwick Island. At the time, officials noted the town’s limited wireless capacity contributed to dropped calls and slower internet speeds.
To that end, officials proposed installing small cell antennas onto utility poles throughout Fenwick. The town council also approved a wireless ordinance, which acted as an agreement the town could use when contracting with any provider wishing to install wireless infrastructure on town poles.
“The intent, then and now, was to provide 5G service for Fenwick Island and to improve our service,” Councilman Bill Weistling told committee members last week, “especially during the summer months with the heavy beach traffic and the heavy usage that’s involved.”
In the years since those initial discussions, officials said Verizon had installed 14 small cell antennas in and around Fenwick. At last month’s meeting, Verizon representative Bonnie Metz told committee members that Fenwick would have 5G service for the coming summer season.
“These nodes, all of them are 4G and 5G nodes,” she said. “That means if people use a 5G phone, they’re going to be using 5G service come the summer. That’s going to free up space on the 4G network … We’re anticipating you’re going to have great service with both 4G and 5G from here on out.”
Metz said Fenwick was the first town in Delaware to adopt a wireless ordinance that would pave the way for improved cell service and infrastructure investments.
With the installation of new small cell antennas, Metz told committee members the town would no longer need temporary cell towers to meet the demand of wireless usage during the summer season. She said the new technology would not only improve coverage along Coastal Highway, but on the beaches as well.
“We appreciate the partnership and the discussions we’ve had when there have been issues, and our ability to work through them together to achieve our objective, which is to make sure our customers have the service that they need,” she said.
Town Manager Terry Tieman said the improved cell service would enhance safety.
“One of the reasons we were so concerned about the cellphone coverage, and that we adopted the ordinance we adopted, was because we had a real safety issue,” she told committee members. “Our police use wireless in their vehicles and there were some cases in which the police were having to move the car back and forth. Sometimes they couldn’t get a connection and would allow the perpetrator to leave because we couldn’t make a connection to the system we needed.”
Weistling applauded the town’s partnership with Verizon.
“That worked out very well for the town,” he said. “I know the people in town were concerned about having a proliferation of poles. It doesn’t seem like that’s happening now.”