The goal of the study is to provide data to state and federal authorities who are looking for places to put more towers, Rubin said.
“When funding opportunities come up for new towers, now we will have some concrete information to give them about where it’s really needed,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s very anecdotal.”
Consumers, carriers have different ideas
Carriers also are doing tests on cell coverage. Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Verizon, said the company has specifically designed SUVs with antennas on their roofs to determine which areas are getting adequate coverage.
“In Rockingham County, we’re very well covered,” he said. “We’ve spent over $3 billion over the last 11 years trying to improve coverage in all of New England.”
Although the Verizon spokesman was pleased with how his company covers Rockingham County, he does admit there is always a need to expand.
“We are never satisfied with where we are,” he said. “We are looking at several places, but we keep that close to the vest for competitive reasons.”
Murphy said Verizon launched 4G coverage in Londonderry in May.
Building a new tower is usually a last resort, he said.
“The first inclination is never just to put up a new tower,” he said. “It’s expensive and it’s better for the communities to have less of them.”
Murphy said tower costs generally range from $250,000 to $1 million.
Instead, the carriers actually work together to provide service.
“It’s called co-location,” he said. “If we have a tower, we can collect rent from another carrier who wants to come on. If there’s an area where we want more coverage, then we’re more than happy to jump on someone’s tower.”
The other challenge for carriers is that residents are often oppose tower plans. In 2008, Atkinson residents rejected a $484,000 cellular tower.