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New tower aims to end 'dead zone'

Local Editor | January 27, 2023 1:00 AM

OSBURN — A new cellular tower on the north side of the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River has many local residents wondering if their cellphone service is about to improve.

In August 2022, the Osburn City Council approved a special use permit for Skyway Towers LLC to construct the 250-foot tower near Nuchols Gulch Road.

Skyway Towers is a third-party developer with contracts with all major telecommunications carriers — the site in Osburn was constructed to bring coverage to what has been deemed an underserved community.

According to information from the city and the special use permit, the tower’s valuation was around $200,000 — and is owned and operated by Skyway Towers and located on private property owned by Zanetti Bros, Inc.

Justin Jones, vice president of operations with Skyway Towers spoke about the benefits of the tower design and how it will be beneficial to the community as soon as it is up and running, as well as in the long run.

Contractually, Jones was unable to name the provider who will initially be providing service off from the new tower, but through the Osburn City Council meeting minutes the News-Press was able to determine that cellular providers AT&T and T-Mobile will be the first users.

“I know for the tenant that is going on the tower, Osburn was an absolute dead zone and it was a priority for them, but I believe the other carriers will be soon to follow,” Jones said. “The structure that we built has the capability to hold every carrier instead of having like four different towers. We’re excited to be able to bring the capability and I think it worked out well in terms of location, it’s not really impeding anyone else — It was a win-win.”

Jones also explained the importance of the tower in the current climate of work from home, school from home, telehealth, and most importantly — emergency responding.

“This tower will also be tied to the emergency services network,” Jones said, “so it will help with 9-1-1 response and first-responder response.”

Currently, crews from Avista Utilities are working to bring power to the tower and Jones estimates that the tower will begin providing cellular coverage in the springtime.

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