No more 'dead zones?' North Okaloosa County cellphone coverage expected to improve with new towers

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — The placement of two cellphone towers that will each support three wireless carriers in north Okaloosa County received the County Commission’s approval Tuesday.

The towers are expected to help provide better cellphone coverage in the northern end of the county, parts of which contain “dead zones” with weak or non-existing cellphone service.

The silhouette of a cell phone tower shot against the orange cast of the setting sun.

One of the towers will be 265 feet tall and will stand on a parcel now used as a race track near Grady Baggett Road in the Baker area.

The other tower will be 315 feet tall and stand on a vacant parcel at 3804 Poverty Creek Road in the Dorcas area northeast of Crestview.

Each tower will be topped with a 10-foot lightning rod.

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Site development plans for both towers were submitted to the county by the Birmingham, Alabama, office of Baker Donelson Law Firm Inc. on behalf of New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC, of Atlanta.

Those entities were the same ones that received the County Commission’s approval last year to build a multi-carrier AT&T cellphone tower near the 6800 block of State Road 189 north of Baker and a multi-carrier AT&T tower near State Road 85 and south of Garden Grove Lane in the Laurel Hill area. Those towers have been constructed.

Information on installation timelines for the newly-approved towers for the north county was not immediately available Wednesday.

“That ball is in the contractor’s court,” according to an email from the county Growth Management Department. “Generally, they like to start to build as quickly as possible, but we do not control that.”

Last summer, an attorney from Baker Donelson Law Firm said New Cingular Wireless would be willing to partner with the county and provide space on the two earlier-approved towers for local public safety communications equipment.

Such equipment would improve communications between first responders.

The attorney, Andy Rotenstreich, had said those towers would be part of AT&T’s FirstNet system, which came into being after 9/11. According to AT&T, FirstNet, which stands for First Responder Network Authority, is a high-speed mobile communications network that gives first responders priority access.