Sprint Nextel to Improve Service

Sprint Nextel Hawaii plans to replace three cell phone antennae atop the Paddlers Inn building with hopes of improving reception for customers in the Kaunakakai area.

The Molokai Planning Commission last week unanimously approved  amendments to two permits previously awarded to Sprint Nextel. In addition to new antennae, the permits also allow upgrades to an equipment room on the second floor of the building, formally known as the Lucy Wilhelm Center.

Alii Wireless’s William Keoni Fox, a consultant overseeing the project for Sprint Nextel Hawaii, said the company still needs to obtain a building permit before beginning construction, which they expect to start around March 2012.

The three antennae currently atop Paddlers operate only at 800 MHz frequency, which was used by Nextel before it merged with Sprint in 2006, Fox said. However, Sprint uses a 1900 MHz frequency, and the new installations will be dual band antennae – allowing them to service phones that require both 800 and 1900 MHz frequencies.

Sprint Nextel Hawaii already has antennae capable of 800 and 1900 MHz operating in Maunaloa.

Fox said the company has been in contact with the Molokai Police Department about making sure the new frequency does not interfere with police operations. The planned upgrades will have no measurable environmental affects, he said, and should moderately improve customers’ cell phone reception.

“[We’re trying] to use an existing site to try to give better coverage to Kaunakakai,” Fox said. “If we put up a 50-foot or 60-foot tower in the middle of town, we’d probably have awesome coverage,” but that would require more permits and working with the community, he said.


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