Roanoke City planners examining ways to keep up with cell service demands

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - With cell phones being a necessity for most people, Roanoke City planners are examining ways to keep up with changes in technology and improve coverage.

Like many other areas, Roanoke has seen an increased demand for data and local leaders said infrastructure is needed to meet customer's needs.

It's the current policies that need to be updated, according to city planners.

"The iPhone came out in 2007. We are all using telecommunications differently now," said Wayne Leftwich, the Senior City Planner for Roanoke City. "We are using more data and we want to revisit our policy to make sure we are keeping up with the latest technology."

Leftwich said the proliferation of smartphones and other wireless devices requires more data.

In the past, large cell towers were built to meet customer's demands, but they also raised people's concerns about the landscape. In an effort to improve service while protecting the view, wireless providers are switching to smaller structures, such as monopoles.

"We are realizing there is a whole hierarchy of these facilities," said Leftwich. "Some are quite small. Some are where you may have a utility pole that has some infrastructure on it that would connect to the larger towers."

Leftwich said the city is examining ways to update its policies and guide the development of future wireless communication facilities. With more people relying on cell phones, many hope to see better coverage without scarring the scenic views in the Roanoke Valley.

On Thursday, people can learn more about cell towers and the various types of structures the city is considering.

There will be drop-in sessions from 12-1:30 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m at the Planning and Development Conference Room, Room 181 in the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building, 215 Church Ave. SW. Use the 2nd Street entrance and the conference room will be immediately on the right.