Commentaries Event Notices

Why Are Street Light Wireless Antennas Coming to North End and Downtown Boston?

Rendering courtesy of Extenet.

I had a lot of questions reading in NorthEndWaterfront.com about the city of Boston contract with ExteNet Systems to install WiFi Antenna atop city-owned “shoebox” cement and steel “cobra” streetlight poles and atop traffic signal poles. Most of the NorthEndWaterfront.com report focused on aesthetics, emphasizing the contract did not extend to the “Acorn” or “gaslight” street light fixtures.

What I didn’t learn was how we as city of Boston residents could benefit from these antenna distributed in the neighborhood. Other than a vague reference to “Verizon and other wireless carriers would buy service to enhance their wireless coverage for phone and data use,” it wasn’t really clear what our streetlights and traffic signal poles sprouting antenna would do for us.

Of course I did what I do, I Googled ExteNet Systems and studied their WebPages reading, ExteNet’s Outdoor Distributed Networks enable advanced mobile connectivity and deliver coverage and capacity in urban, suburban and rural settings while ExteNet’s Indoor Distributed Networks enable advanced mobile connectivity and deliver a superior mobile experience to users in facilities and venues across a host of market segments and verticals” which didn’t clarify as much as I’d hoped.

In short, I wondered, if ExtaNet installs their antenna cans atop North End light poles, will we have access to Internet service from other than the overpriced and insufficient Verizon DSL or the also overly expensive Comcast?

So I called ExteNet to inquire. The man hung up on me.

I picked up the phone and called City Councilor Sal LaMattina’s office assuming that since the matter had been before NEWNC, they’d be up-to-speed on this ExteNet contract with the city of Boston and would know why installing the WiFi antenna to city-owned streetlight and traffic poles, presumably, is a good idea for Boston residents. They had no idea what I was talking about.

A short few hours later Michael called advising the ExteNet antenna would only help improve mobile phone reception—we’d get “better cell.”

Personally, I think we should hold out for fast, reliable WiFi Internet service from somewhere other than Verizon or Comcast if we’re going to mount antenna atop our streetlight and traffic signal poles, WITH “better cell” too and with a more imaginative antenna design—a little less “form
follows function.

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