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Company proposes unusual cell phone service
Company proposes unusual cell phone service

BOZEMAN - A Mississippi company is proposing mounting shoebox-sized transceivers on existing utility polls to provide cell phone service in the depths of Gallatin Canyon along U.S. 191.

Summit Wireless says it aims to establish the first reliable cell phone service in the confines of the canyon from Gallatin Gateway to Big Sky. "I'm very excited about this," said Nancy Halstrom, resource assistant for the Bozeman Ranger District of the Gallatin National Forest. It's her job to process applications from companies that want to build transmitters.

The proposal to install service up Gallatin Canyon involves "a brand new concept," Halstrom told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. For the new system, "there should be very minimal ground disturbances," minimal impact on wildlife habitat, and no new towers built atop peaks cluttering up the view, Halstrom said.

In all, 23 transceivers would be installed on the power poles, one per mile, so people driving in the canyon would have continuous service. The system would deliver "superior service," said Charles Waterloo, one of the founders of Summit Wireless. Over the past three years, the company has bought licenses from the Federal Communications Commission for telecom turf around Montana, Waterloo said, including the stretch in the canyon.

If the company's timetable holds, construction would begin in late summer or fall with the system running by winter. Along with the Montana Power Co. and the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Transportation is involved in evaluating the proposal. The transceivers would have 1-foot-long antennas. The installation would also involve stringing a single strand of coaxial cable from pole to pole.

The Gallatin National Forest is the first national forest that has agreed to work with the companies making the proposal, including a subcontractor from New Hampsire, the Chronicle said.

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