Selbyville council considers signal-booster utility pole

Some cellphones in the area may be getting a boost. The Mobilitie communications company has requested permission from the Selbyville Town Council to construct a utility pole on Dukes Street Extended. When wireless networks are overwhelmed, the network would fall back to rely on the signal repeater, or booster, located on the pole.

“My company installs and builds infrastructure, and then we lease it out to the carrier,” such as Sprint or Verizon, said Mobilitie representative Katina Boyce on Oct. 3.

She said people don’t like the look of today’s cell towers, which are all at maximum capacity anyway. Instead of building more towers, the privately-owned Mobilitie builds backup poles to help when regular towers are at maximum capacity.

The pole might be 4 feet around, with some equipment in the base, or 2 feet around, with equipment on the pole. On top, the antenna is only about 2 feet wide. To avoid piles of equipment and an eyesore of a tower, only one company gets to lease the utility pole.

Councilman Rick Duncan Sr. suggested the Selbyville Industrial Park would be a more appropriate location for the pole, partly because Mountaire tractor-trailers wouldn’t be backing up along that road. Boyce said company engineers choose spots based on coverage gaps, but she said she would pass the message to her colleagues.

Currently, the 18-year-old public utility company has structures in or near Selbyville, but Boyce said they are working in all 50 states, including elsewhere in Delaware, in Georgetown, Millsboro and Dagsboro.

If approved by the Town, they’d still have to do a survey for underground utility pipes or wires and obtain the appropriate permits. Mobilitie would also invite the Town or its police department to hang radio or related equipment there.

Selbyville’s Town Code says little about such an installation, only that it’s unlawful to install poles or wires without the mayor’s and council’s permission.

The town council seemed receptive to the idea of allowing construction. Selbyville would receive monetary compensation. The Town would write a contract, similar to a franchise agreement for cable or other utilities.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• A Victoria Forest resident said her neighbor’s water meter had started spewing water. She asked if the Town will proactively test all the other meters. The council made no promises, but Duncan promised to research the issue. Fortunately for the affected homeowner, the issue was on the Town’s side of the meter.

• Selbyville’s getting a new website. The council agreed (with Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr. absent) to pay $100 annually for a State-created website, which would be easier for Town Hall staff to update themselves. Many local towns use the service, provided by Government Information Center, including Fenwick Island, with its new website.

• The Halloween Parade is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. Trick-or-treating will be Monday, Oct. 31.

The next regular Selbyville Town Council meeting will be Monday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.