Cell towers to bring signal to Santa Clarita Valley, where terrain makes it difficult

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With three new cell towers approved and on the way, there’s hope for better cell reception for those struggling with dropped calls.

But Santa Clarita’s topography creates some inherent challenges for the area for the engineers working to keep the SCV connected, and as the demand for more phones grows, so likely will the need for more towers, according to representatives for wireless service providers.

Three cell towers, meant to bring better signal quality throughout Santa Clarita, remain in construction limbo until their respective providers bring forth permits for approval, city officials said.

The city of Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved cell service towers for AT&T and Verizon Wireless in August and April, respectively, but have yet to receive permits for the projects from the providers, which is the next step before a construction timeline can be set, said Senior City Planner James Chow.

“Each of the carriers are responsible for moving those permits forward, and ultimately moving the construction process forward,” Chow said Monday.

The topography of Santa Clarita necessitates more facilities due to the hilly terrain, said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Heidi Flato.

The “line of sight” in the Santa Clarita Valley is much more difficult than in flatter, more open areas, meaning that radio signals traveling from cell site to cell site require more facilities to cover a broad, mountainous area.

“When there is hilly terrain, you typically need more cell sites to cover the area because the topography can interfere with the signal,” she said. “There are certain line-of-site requirements to provide ubiquitous network coverage (in Santa Clarita). As more people are cutting the cords with home phones and relying solely on wireless telecommunications, areas need more reliable network infrastructure. That’s required to provide robust coverage and to meet capacity to keep people connected when and where they need it most.”

Each cell tower added to Santa Clarita can boost the signal significantly, due to the gaps in coverage between being more noticeable, Flato said. Radio signals transmit easier on flat areas, making an area such as the Santa Clarita Valley a unique challenge.

The newest tower approved in August, is an AT&T tower set for a city-owned location, west of the South Fork Trail and east of Alicante Drive, on an existing Southern California Edison lattice tower at 48 feet, according to city documents.

The Verizon tower, approved in April, will be located on the southern portion of the private Sanctuary Church property, at 26460 Friendly Valley Parkway, near the intersection of Friendly Valley Parkway and Sierra Highway. The 360-square-foot facility will include 12 panel antennas, 18 remote radio units, one GPS antenna, one stand-by generator and two equipment cabinets, while standing 47 feet tall.

The other of the AT&T towers, approved in April, is on property that is city-controlled in Canyon Country Park, at 17615 Soledad Canyon Road. It is slated to be a 12-foot-wide by 12-foot-long, 42-foot-tall two-faced clock tower that will have 12 antennas, and is said by providers to not interfere with existing parking available in the Canyon Country area.

The locations for the towers are all final, Chow said. In Santa Clarita, an estimated 65 to 70 wireless communications facilities have been built by cellular companies operating in the valley. The number is only an estimate due to a number of factors including towers being turned off or decommissioned, he said.

The providers have two years to pull the permits, with opportunities for one-year extensions. After they are pulled, construction would begin and vary between six to eight months, Chow said.

Cell signal locations can be seen on crowd-sourced coverage maps like those seen on Sensorly.com and Opensignal.com



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