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Company seeks franchise to bring ‘microcell’ wireless tech to Bardstown

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, June 30, 2016, 5 p.m. — Residents and visitors to Bardstown will likely soon have access to improved cellphone and wireless data coverage when demand surges thanks to a company that wants to bring “microcell” technology to town.

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Larry Hamilton, the city’s public works director, tells the city council about a franchise request from KY Backhaul Transmission at Tuesday’s meeting.

KY Backhaul Transmission Networks LLC has contacted Bardstown City Hall about obtaining a non-exclusive franchise to deploy small cellular phone and data networks — known as microcells” — in areas of town where existing phone and data networks may be prone to heavy usage.

Larry Hamilton, the city’s director of public works, told the Bardstown City Council that KY Backhaul has contacted the city regarding a request for a franchise to establish its services in Bardstown.

Hamilton said the company provided three three locations it may wish to use for microcell deployment — as proposed, each would include an antenna mast of approximately 70 feet. One location would be on West Flaget across the street from Hadorn’s Bakery in the city’s historic district; a second is on Cathedral Manor near the former Maxine’s, and a third would be in the Honeysuckle/Daffodil area.

The initial information from the company indicates they would like the poles to be on the street, Hamilton said. Councilman Fred Hagan questioned the placement of one of the microcell antenna structures in the city’s historic district; Hamilton said the company has indicated its willingness to work with local regulations so their sites would be acceptable.

KY Backhaul is a wholly owned subsidiary of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Mobilitie LLC. KY Backhaul was incorporated in Delaware Feb 17, 2016 and registered in Kentucky in March. In a letter to the Kentucky Public Service Commission dated March 1, Mobilitie transferred its authorization to cell_sizeprovide telecommunications in Kentucky to KY Backhaul.

Those telecommunications services KY Backhaul can provide include building and operating wireless infrastructure, including microcells, WiFi, distributed antenna systems and communication towers.

WHAT IS A MICROCELL? A microcell is a cellular telephone system designed to cover a much smaller area than typical cell phone towers. Microcells have a range of 2 kilometers or less (about 1-1/4 miles), and are designed to add cell phone capacity in areas in which high capacity is needed.

Mobilitie’s wireless data technology is often used to add wireless capacity to specific venues and events, including indoor sports areas, outdoor stadiums and even Louisville’s Churchill Downs.

On its website, Mobilitie notes that its ability to add wireless capacity was employed for the fourth straight year at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in order to give visitors sufficient wireless bandwidth that was routed over AT&T’s network.

The total wireless data volume at the Oaks and Kentucky Derby races at Churchill Downs’ wireless network was more than 11.4 Terabytes, which is equal to more than 32.8 million social media posts with photos.

WHAT’S NEXT? According to City Attorney Tim Butler, the franchise agreements and other documents will need to be drafted and reviewed. Hamilton said he would like to get the planning commission’s input in regard to tower locations.

“I thought we should bring it to your attention that this is going to be on our radar,” Hamilton said.

HISTORIC REVIEW BOARD APPROVALS. At its meeting Tuesday, the council approved the Historic Review Board’s recommendations on recent applications for certificates of appropriateness for changes to homes in the city’s historic district:

COA -16-31. Frank and DeeDee Smith (applicants/owners), 218 North Fourth St., propose to add shutters to the house at 218 North 4th Street. The homeowner will decide if the shutter will be a solid panel or solid louvered shutter; the color and hardware will be approved by the Preservation Coordinator.

COA – 16-43. Lanny & Ceceilia Baker (applicants/owners), 216 East Flaget Ave., propose to paint the front porch, trim, and chimney.

COA -16-50. Edelen Signs, applicant, Leon Claywell, owner, propose to add two signs at 202 West Stephen Foster Avenue Suite A.

COA -16-46. Derek Hutchins (applicant/owner) proposed adding cedar board vinyl siding to the rear of 114 North Third Street. The HRB recommended denial of the application. Hutchins has appealed the HRB’s denial and a hearing before the Bardstown City Council is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 12, 2016.

COA -16-47.Tom Durbin applicant, Rosemary Hurst, owner, proposed replacing the exterior light fixtures, change the exterior wall color, and change the roof color at 104 East Broadway Ave.

COA -16-44.Tom Durbin applicant, Rosemary Hurst, owner, proposed moving the chimney to an alternate location at 104 East Broadway Ave. The HRB recommendation was to deny the request.

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