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For dozens of letters pertaining to
international tower worker deaths, click here.

It's no longer the other guy did it defense
Great story on Clovis Prince. The usual defense is the other guy did it, not my ego did it.

Clovis Prince and AT&TIt is kind of interesting that he went on for years without anyone catching on to his prison time and false statements.

AT&T gives him a $325 million deal without checking him out? Unbelievable!

Don't pay your AT&T cell phone bill and they'll shut you off. He wasn't paying his contractors and they looked the other way.
Dallas, TX

I need to tell you how much I enjoyed the article about Clovis Prince. It is hard to believe that such a con that big went on for so long. Keep up the good work.
Joliet, IL

You really can't make that stuff up, can you?
Kansas City, MO

Why would AT&T care about shutting him down? For every new site he completed they would get more revenue.
Sumter, SC

Your story says he didn't have a safety program. I can't believe that the carriers didn't require one. It's SOP with them.
Kenilworth, NJ

Editor's Note:
A number of contractors said they were not aware of their safety program and/or there was either minimal or non-existent oversight of their EH&S program.

Following publication of the article, a viewer forwarded us Prince & Associates' 75-page health and safety program along with its attachments.

It was a bare-bones program that would have been necessary to become approved as a prime contractor by any carrier.

The 10-year-old document missed a number of communications construction safety concerns such as the need for a specific fire safety plan when cutting new portholes in monopoles.

The program was also confusing at times. In example, one mandate said: "Utilize aerial lifts for lifting personnel and small hand tools." The next sentence read: "The use of aerial lifts in lieu of a crane is prohibited." 

You're the pot calling the kettle black

You said that the databases being used by tower search programs are inaccurate. Then you go ahead and provide a list that has American Cell Tower totals in AmericaTower with a tower total less than Crown Castle.

I believe if you did a little research you would find that American Tower is the largest tower company in the U.S., not Crown. A quick Google search would tell you that.

Either you used those same search programs for your totals or you too are providing smoke and mirrors in your article.

Larry McDaniels

Editor's note: A number of emails voiced similar concerns about  American Tower's ranking, Larry.

However, Crown Castle International is still the largest tower owner - in the U.S.

The article and the list of the top tower companies all referred to towers in America.

American Tower is indeed the largest international tower owner based in the U.S., but not the largest tower company in America.

Close to 40% of their towers are located in Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Chile and India.

Even though high finance types might
find it to be low brow humor...

The poke at how little is ever disclosed during analysts' calls was drop dead funny.
Monopole Collapse
BD, Tempe, AZ

Your fictitious conference call was hilarious, plus it was very topical with what's now going on with Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. Don't you ever get writer's block when trying to always find something newsworthy in this industry?

Walter Emmons

Editor's Note:
Fortunately we've never had writer's block and never will since it is an occupational disease that only affects the DNA of writers with talent, like Dave Barry who reportedly caught it after eating a piece of eighty-year-old buffalo jerky that was gnawed upon by Mark Twain's mother, Jane Clemens, who was also a humorist and would often join in with her son's friends when they poked fun at his middle name, Langhorne.

New safety tool is welcomed by the industry
Almost every day we get great comments sent to us about our free Jobsite Emergency Action Plan. Here are just a few of the many that we've received:

"Thanks for this great advancement towards worker safety. We are now requiring that our CMs ensure that there is one in every jobsite binder."

"This form took little to no time to fill out, definitely a money saver, not to mention a time saver, and Jobsite Emergency Action Plan JEAPmost of all it could possibly be a life saver!"

"When I was first told that we had to use a new form instead of ours, my first thoughts were: 'More $%@! to fill out for every job!'. Was I ever mistaken. This thing rocks. You guys have made my job a lot easier and the neat part is for once our crews are finally making sure we have one of these on the jobsite."

"In our JSE we would just check off that we would call 911 if anything happened. At our monthly all hands meeting we discussed this and never really considered until now, what if the cell site we were working on went down? How would we then get help? Thanks for this really neat program."

"It used to take me up to a half-hour sometimes to find the necessary information, after trying to find an accurate address and sifting through all of the ads in a Google search. Used this for the first time today and it took me less than five minutes. Great job guys!"

"This is awesome! Thanks for this great tool!"

"Your JEAP is unbelievably accurate and so quick. I can't imagine how much time went into developing it. You ought to charge for it. If it's not too much I'm sure most companies would have no problem at all paying for it."

Editor's Note:
The JEAP took over three months to design, program and beta test. Almost 40 companies were involved in its development.

There will never by a charge for the program. We believe that someday we'll receive a huge payday when we learn that it assisted in helping to save a life. 

iBurst out laughing about the fast food reply

If I have this straight, this chief executive of a mobile company iBurst cell tower feudtold an audience that their rashes were not caused by iBurst's cell tower, but might have been caused by their poor eating habits of having consumed too many Big Macs.

Then he tries to defend his statement with: “Where you find the highest density of cell phone towers, you also find the highest concentration of fast-food outlets.”

I'm not sure if he's done studies to back that up, but at face value where you have the highest density of mobile masts you have the highest concentration of most everything.

Using his logic, you would have the highest concentration of health food stores and gyms and the residents near the park should all be the healthiest people in South Africa.

Terry Darby

What's with the 999,000 watt error?

I always enjoy the news items on Wireless Estimator.

The article regarding the parachutist exposed to RF radiation has a minor error, though.  The facility in question is listed as having an ERP of 5000 kW (5 thousand thousand watts, or 5 million watts) which is assumed to be correct.Tower BASE Jumper Connecticut

However, the article goes on to compare a microwave (assumedly oven) as having a power of 1000 kW (1 thousand thousand watts, or 1 million watts).

Trust me when I say, your or anyone’s microwave oven does not output 1 million watts, real, imagined, effective, magnified, or anything of the sort.  Microwave ovens exist in the 400 to 1200 watt (not kW) range.

One would need some pretty hefty entrance cables into your home in order to power a megawatt microwave!

Thanks again for the good articles. 

Ken Hoehn
Broadcast Engineering, LLC.
Lakeland, MI 

Editor's Note:
Thanks for the great catch, Ken. We have made the correction in the article.

Ironically, we just came across pirated ad agency storyboards that will be promoting Amana's introduction of their 5-million watt microwave oven.

Off camera in a resonant basso voice, James Earl Jones intones: "Time is the devourer of all things, but now through taciturn technology, you can turn a Texas Longhorn into a 1,200-pound piece of beef jerky in just under half a nanosecond." 

Mohawks weren't the only capable iron workers
I agree to what you say in your article that you're not going to find any research that Mohawks areMohawk Iron Workers the best people for tower or other iron work involving great heights.

My grandfather was an ironworker who constructed tall buildings in the Midwest, working on the tallest building -- the Sears Tower.  He was just as sure-footed and capable as any other of his union brothers. I believe some of them were Indians.

It was a building trade that was well respected because it required a great amount of dedication and hard work. So, credit the Mohawks for that, but not necessarily give them the title for being the most qualified based upon an undocumented perception that they were the only ones that could be sure-footed.

Grandpa Walter died from cancer at age 92, not from testing common sense, but for being careful in his profession.

Mrs. George Wilkerson

* * * * * * * *
Give us a break! You make it sound like the rest of the people who work on towers don't have the skills of Indians. It's a myth. I haven't run up against too many Mohawks that work on tall towers. If there are many of you out there it would be interesting to know who you are?

Rock Hill, South Carolina

* * * * * * * *¬

Speak to any tower company and you'll find that there are very few Indians in the business. Speak to any successful rigger in Canada, and you'll find that it has nothing to do with not having a fear of heights. That's BS. It has everything to do with being concerned about falling to your death. The days of being photographed as being the daring worker on the edge of a beam are over. Get real!

R. Colberston
Winnipeg, Canada

- - - - - - - - - -

Editor's Note: All employees that work on tall steel deserve accolades for undertaking a profession that few will ascend to. But it's doubtful that there is any credible data that will prove that Mohawks or any other American Indians were -  and still are - the most capable.

The profession has changed considerably over the years and no longer requires the worker to be able to just stitch steel. There weren't too many union hall bulletin boards requesting the services during the 1930's for a worker that could climb, do civil work and PIM testing. 


Tower toppling wasn't a snooze bulletin, he says

Great job on the Washington towers article. It's nice to be able to read stories that are written by Seattle Towers Snohomishindustry reporters and not people who haven't a clue about the tower business.

Unfortunately, a climbing (mountain bike, not tower) accident kept me off my feet this Labor Day weekend and I spent a number of hours on the net.

Your frequently updated articles on these spineless scum buckets was the best available anywhere.

After a while, there were hundreds of articles, but they seemed to repeat the same things. Ironically, four days later all of the so-called "snooze" sites are publishing the event as if it was an explosive exclusive that no one had heard about.

I'll look forward to your next article which will hopefully be the arrest of those responsible.

Keep up the great work.

Richard Culpepper
Seattle, Wash.

Embittered about Crossroads' bankruptcy

It's doubtful that the CEO of Crossroads Wireless ever lost a nickel in the company's bankruptcy. With all of the research you did for the story, did you find out how much he was paid while running Crossroads Wireless Bankruptcythe company into the ground.

Some of the Crossroads's employees were never paid what they were owed and it's shameful how he used vendors to support his grandiose plan that never had the ability to get off the ground while under his thumb.

It looks like the stockholders - which were mostly local exchange carriers - took a beating as well. I'm sure it didn't come out of the executives' pockets and was passed on to their customers or their employees were forced to take a cut under the guise of, 'It's the economy, stupid', and not, 'We were stupid, but we'll blame it on the economy.'

It will be interesting to see where (Tom) Riley pops up next. Hopefully, he's had his last hurrah.
Leonard Cowell

Editor's Note:
The public records available to us did not indicate how much CEO Tom Riley, Jr. was compensated for his stewardship while at the helm of Crossroads.


Tower ScreamWants to scream about
contractors that bid 
projects too low

Some contractors are their worst enemy. They keep complaining about the way that they're taken advantage of, but they go right back and accept the next job at a price that they know they can't make any money with.

Then they sub the work out and their subs take the job and know that they can't make money either. It makes me want to scream!

Ron Kunkel
Plymouth, IN

Why were the talking heads cut off?
I just noticed that you no longer have the cute talking heads on your web site anymore. Was there aTower Erector particular reason they are not there?
C. Estheridge
Claremont, CA

Editor's note:
Michael Corleone summed it up quite nicely in The Godfather: "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."

The talking heads had more than a two-year run and were enjoyed by a number of people who wrote us and said they were cute, the single most popular adjective.

Cute describes cunning kittens, and as we watched this week in real time the installation of a 1,000-foot TV tower, we noticed that there were always three or four rather large dogs on the job site playing toy tug with a 1,000-pound headache ball. Not an endearing feline among them.

Others thought the talking head's eyes that followed your cursor around the page were weird and it made them uncomfortable.

Communication co-locations on conifers? Woodn't have it any other way

I really enjoy your news and I know you are right on top of things. Your tongue in cheek humor about the wood antenna mount made me laugh, but you may not know that Poland actually built many transmission towers using wood. I don't cell towerknow if it was because of the shortage of steel or ingenuity, but the Gliwice tower is one of them that still stands in Poland.
Lonnie Garretson
Hawthorne, NJ

Editor's note:
After struggling through The Book of Genesis, oblique references in 1930's sheet music and subliminal messages in material safety data sheets, we were awestruck when we found that wood was used for many communications towers.

Between 1929 and 1935 a number of German broadcasters built radio towers utilizing wood, the tallest being constructed during 1934 in Mühlacker at a height of 624 feet.

Poland also built some of their towers using wood and the tallest wood tower in the world still remaining, built in 1935, is the Gliwice tower at 387 feet.

Serving as a cell tower and providing services for a low power FM station, the structure is part of the Museum on Radio History and Visual Arts.

Why whine over DTV delay?

Since the DTV transition date is just weeks away, what's the hullabaloo about tower workers and broadcasters losing money if it's held over until June? I would imagine that most antennas andDigital TV equipment have been installed by now. When AT&T cuts back on a planned build-out the industry bears with it. Why all the whining?
David Garcia,
Barstow, CA

Editor's note:
In addition to manufacturers, tower maintenance and installation contractors, broadcasters will take a considerable financial hit in an environment where advertising is almost half of what it was a year ago.

Some stations have sold their analog equipment to foreign broadcasters based upon the expected February delivery date.

It will also continue dual power bills for broadcasters operating simulcast analog and digital service which will total more than $40,000 for high-power UHF stations.

There's also the safety issue. Not the one where Senators Rockefeller and Klobuchar voiced their concern about tower techs having to work in winter weather, but the integrity of some of the structures.

Sadly, it is highly unlikely that every broadcaster in America retrofitted their towers for the capacity requirements of both DTV and analog antennas.

Will the towers fail? Most likely, they will not. But stress them with early spring ice storms and the results could be catastrophic.

Ernest says he's been drug free for two years
Thank you, Jack, for seeing things the wrong way that night! I wasn't singing at all. I was trying to get the attention of my fellow ground workers at that company. I was up there for two hours calling on theTower Dogs radio and their cells to see if the rope was weaved through the booms for pulling the lines the right way. You probably saved my life.

I found out one was smoking coke in the shelter and the other one was selling it to him. When the owner jumped on me about that he didn't want to know anything about what went on. I didn't have a chance to tell him, because he was dedicated to the one in the shelter. As far as he knew the guy was clean from his addictions.

He was oblivious to the real situation going on. Everyone at the company was either selling or doing cocaine. Including: yours truly. We were out of control and you put my life back together.

Now I have the chance to be in the living rooms of millions of people. I've been clean since that job and my work is impeccable.  I hope when the show airs soon you'll see that my singing is my only flaw.

Oh, I do enjoy a beer after a long job. I keep that to a minimum on school nights. Sorry you had to see me while at the end of my rope with my fellow workers. I'm not being a smartass Yankee when I say, thank you!!!!  

Ernest Hart

Editor's Note: Ernest Hart, one of the tower workers in July's NBC Dateline Presents special, "Tower Dogs," is responding to a writer's less-than-complimentary critique about his acting debut.

We're ending our comments section about this TV special seen by more than five million viewers since we've witnessed and have had observations emailed to us about all of the emotional triggers.

The aerial antagonist becomes drug free. Boy meets attractive girl boss, but leaves her in a lurch. There was even pathos as we sadly learned of another industry fatality.

However, this may not be the end of climbers on cable or TV. A number of people close to the NBC project say in true Ronco-style, "But wait! There's more!"

The NBC public relations wagon hasn't rolled into town yet with the details since the network's policy is to remain mum until an air date is confirmed.

If there is a series about tower construction workers, it's unlikely that we'll be treated to a scene where hardened riggers are gingerly ushered out of a Christian Science Reading Room at closing time.

More than likely there will be a bar scene. But please don't get out your Pocket Fisherman and try to fillet these tower workers because they want to unwind after work with a few drinks.

As a reporter in the early '70s, at quitting time a number of us used to head across the street to the neighborhood tavern and enjoy an occasional extended social hour where last call came too early.

Thank goodness there weren't inexpensive hand-held video cameras available at that time. Otherwise, along with cops, carpenters, counselors and other professionals, we would have been held up to ridicule for our errant ways.

We don't expect any series to make our industry proud as a peacock, but if there is one, hopefully NBC will temper any conflicts and have a more enlightening presentation about the business we're all very proud of being associated with.

Tower Dogs Comments
Dateline's "Tower Dogs" special
sends viewers to their keyboards

After TV viewers finished watching NBC Dateline 's "Tower Dogs", many of them quickly took up pen in hand to contact us, but decided it would be a lot easier and considerably less costly to send an email.

Some were incensed with the way the industry was profiled, equating it to how one reacts after hearing the sound of screeching nails on a poorly galvanized waveguide bridge.

Others saw it as a slice of life on the road, mimicking what sometimes occurs.
You can read their comments here.

I hope they get their aspen a sling!
After we published the photograph of what appeared to be some type of pine tree branch antenna mount (see below ), we received a number of caustic comments from readers along with a potpourri of puns.Self Supporting Tower

One Iowa engineer replied, "No fatigue problems with wood-maybe they are onto something here!"

We thought we had better warn him: American steel tower manufacturers do not respond well to technology threats such as 2,000-foot teak towers and short-term hydrogen balloon transmitters that are released daily by rural milk maids!

It has been long-suspected that the U.S. dollar bill's image of a faux pyramid with an eye in the capstone is really a steel tower with intermediate lighting, and represents a shadow society of manufacturers that secretly rule the country along with freemasons and other tower foundation contractors who aren't so generous and charge for their services.

Here are some additional replies we'd like to share:
"Mounts available at all of our branch offices."

"Quit whining and look at the positive side, it's made in America and is probably stronger than some of the Chinese tin can crap we're installing."

"Why complain, these are renewable resources."

"They ought to shellac the hell out the guys that did this."

"Although this is petrifying, this must have been a slow news day for y'all."

"It will run rings around some of the imported mounts we see."

"Using a branch for an antenna mount, sounds like pulp fiction."

"Do these mounts come with self locking nuts?"

"Pass the galvanized chalice to them for providing the world's tallest and most inexpensive mono-pine."

Many other comments were emailed to us that were written during the creative hours inconveniently sandwiched between last call and the motel's wakeup call. We just couldn't comprehend the ingenious complexity behind them.

Tower Installation

For above ground level work, it's okay to be
I've thought about entering the "tower climber" business, but was wondering what are the requirements? My fiancé is not thrilled about me going to work on towers because she has heard tooAbove Ground Level much about how dangerous it is. I'm physically fit and mechanically inclined, but would definitely be considered a "green hand", but would prefer climbing.

We're looking to have a child in a couple of years and I would like to be able to support both of them. Do tower climbers make enough money to support a family? Most of your help wanted ads don't tell how much is being offered. Any help will be appreciated.

Eric Hansen

Editor's Note: Tell your soon-to-be-bride that tower climbing is inherently safe. Although the industry is perceived as dangerous, because of the number of fatalities that you frequently read about, it's not. It's only catastrophic to those cowboys who do not take advantage of the training and safety equipment that is provided to them.

Hard working men and women are sought after in this profession. If you contact tower companies in your area there is a good chance that they might be hiring. Or you can use our free positions wanted ads.

On day one, you're not going to be able to support a family, and you may or may not be entitled to immediate benefits. However, if you're industrious and have a good work ethic, you can surely earn a more than respectable wage.

One cautionary note: The tower erection and maintenance profession oftentimes requires a lot of in state or national travel, which might keep you away from home. You may be told by a potential employer that it will be kept at a minimum, but that minimum has a way of increasing when the company is awarded multiple projects with an ambitious completion deadline. The trade off: overtime versus quality time.

Newspaper unholsters its concern after two years
Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department shot a man in the back after an incident where he was running away and was supposed to have pulled a gun. The cops say they thought he had a gun. He apparently did. Perhaps in fear of their life, they might have done the right thing. Tower Climber Death

Now The Charlotte Observer is asking the State Bureau of Investigation to conduct an independent inquiry into the death of the man. They say, "That's standard practice in most places when there's a police shooting. It should be here."

The Charlotte Observer is right, but they're a couple of years behind. The paper was noticeably silent when Anthony Wayne Furr was killed two years ago inside of a cell site equipment shelter. His family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and concerned citizens, asked for the same thing, but were denied the opportunity because the police chief wouldn't budge and said his organization was capable of identifying if the officer who shot Anthony Wayne was reacting correctly.

The [Wireless] Estimator site asked its readers to ask the chief to consider allowing the SBI to investigate it in addition to the CMPD's investigation. A lot of people responded, but he refused to consider it. I hope he takes the Charlotte Observer's concern to heart.

Paul Ascenti
Nashville, TN

Editor's note: To restore public trust in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, it's necessary for Police Chief Darrell Stephens to ensure that the CMPD's DNA tests positive for an inborn promise of a secondary investigation following a death from an officer's actions. Sadly, again he's announced that he's not willing to submit his office to that examination.

However, the Chief's actions may be overruled, as they should be.  A new North Carolina law, passed following Furr's death, requires the state to investigate officer-involved killings if the family of the dead person requests it.

Anthony Wayne Furr timeline of events:
July 21, 2006 - Anthony Wayne Furr is shot to death inside a Sprint equipment shelter.
September 5, 2006 - DA says he will not file charges against Charlotte officer that killed an AFL Network Services tech.
October 26, 2006 - Chief Darrell Stephens says the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's investigation into the death of Anthony Wayne Furr is finished and Officer Anthony Payne's actions were justified.
January 19, 2007 - Family's lawsuit says cop fired blindly at tower technician.

Fatwa will cut into nighttime minutes plans

It struck me as funny that the Taliban has threatened to blow up cell sites across Afghanistan unless mobile phone companies agree to switch off their signals at night. Pretty @#!%*-ie of them. They even went as far as to say that it should be done Taliban Cell Towersbetween 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

They say that the US and other nations could be using the signals to track down insurgents. Duh? Of course they are.

It's amazing, they want to use the technology, but only on their terms. Although it is laughable, it does focus in upon the need for the US to take the security of its cell site infrastructure more seriously.

If the industry can't keep crack addicts from stealing copper, how in the world can it maintain any semblance of security if some fanatic wants to take out a metropolitan communications system?

Walter Khronfeldt

Sold on site's excellent SWAP coverageState Wireless
I find the Wireless Estimator website to be a wealth of information for the industry. Not only is it easy to use, but I especially like the information regarding SWAP.

I am the vice president of the New Jersey Wireless Association and when I need to access information regarding SWAP in a timely manner with a comfort level of accuracy I go to your website. Please continue to list all of the SWAP information and activities.

I will not hesitate to urge my colleagues in the industry to utilize your site. Great job! Thank you for your overwhelming support of SWAP.

Michael Lee Foster
Director National Sales
AAT Communications
Iselin, NJ

Kudos to today's climbers and those retired
I did two short summer stints in the early 60s working for a tower company during my college semester breaks. The hourly salary wasn't great, but we put in a lot of overtime, and at the end of the Tower Construction Riggersweek I was making more than most of my fraternity brothers. We worked with lineman's belts, A-frames, and whatever rigging that came out of the owner's pole barn.
Viewing your tower construction in Daytona Beach brings back fond memories of the hard work involved. It also reminds me of the camaraderie we shared and the pride that we had driving away from every erected tower. One thing I can say for these folks that are doing the construction, they seem to take safety seriously. I don't know their ages, but we did some pretty foolish things when we were younger. I'm glad to see that safety on the tower site has changed in the past forty five years, but I hope the friendships created on the road continue to last a lifetime.    

Gerald Usted,
Greenville, SC

Safety professional finds appalling headline less Tower Fatalitiesthan appealing
Is your headline for the article on fatalities appropriate? I guess I would defer to the intended audience.

Appalling (adj); inspiring horror, dismay or disgust.

Given the preceding sentence: Industry safety report card: shouldn't it follow with a "grade-like" equivalent. e.g. IT'S UNSATISFACTORY... more must be done! 

I don't believe anyone ever received "Appalling" on a report card.

I'm just an industry advocate who wants to encourage greater safety awareness, without being judgmental or condescending.

Name withheld upon request

Editor's Note: Your comments and your interest in a safer climbing community are appreciated.

Our site's audience includes climbers, regulators, tower owners, trainers and degreed safety professionals, a cross section of the safety advocates that were quoted in the article. 

Although appalling was used by a training executive only one time in the article, all but one of the individuals interviewed used appalling in their comments to adequately describe their concern about the high number of fatalities last year.

Granted, appalling is not an expected academic achievement adjective such as unsatisfactory. Perhaps it should be considered. One tower fatality would be an excellent report card, but it would still be unsatisfactory. We're all dismayed at the 18 deaths in 2006. 

I believe the headline was clearly appropriate. It is appalling, and you are correct, more must be done!

Profitable failure, but it's rare these daysCrown Castle International

If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you, New York, New York.

It's apparent that Crown Castle wasn't successful in New York or anywhere else in the nation with its mobile TV. Your article says they made some money out of the deal; good for them, that is why they're in business.

Unfortunately, vertical realtors sometimes just don't get it. They should stick to doing what they do best - new technology isn't one of those assets.

Years back, American Tower ran a subsidiary, Verestar, touted as a shining star in satellite network communications, but later divested itself of the company which went bankrupt.

There were untold millions of dollars lost, money that could have and should have been invested in buying and building towers and leasing them.

It's a bricks and mortar business. Provide the wheelbarrows and shovels, but don't spend money filling them with technology ventures, unless those technologies can lower the cost of managing your cell sites.

Gina LaRosa
St. Petersburg, Florida

Concern about coverage, but not FCC rules

A letter to the editor from Jack Winthrop speaks about two common threads running through denials of zoning approval for communication towers. Having been in the industry for eight years before retirement, I experienced this attitude among the various jurisdictions who hold the authority for approval.Cell Tower Protest

I totally agree with Mr. Winthrop's observations. The reasons for denial are almost always political rather than based on reason as the decisions are usually in response to objections by constituents.

As to the concerns over the health issues, it is not legal for local boards to consider potential health effects as this issue is addressed by law and restricted under FCC rules. Any denial on that basis is subject to a federal lawsuit. I was involved in one such lawsuit which resulted in approval by the court and subsequently approval by the board.

In that case, the mayor, who was formerly a newspaper reporter, refused to sign the building permit and had to be personally sued. He finally signed the permit the day before his term expired to avoid the penalty.

It seems everyone complains about holes in the coverage and many who complain are the same citizens who show up to object at the zoning hearings.

Bob Hardee

Location, location, misinformation
In reading your tower zoning news there is a common thread: "There must be another place where they can put this tower."No cell tower
Although they are probably well meaning, do these people really believe that if a carrier could find a location that met local zoning requirements, wasn't near any homes and was able to fill the coverage area where they need to provide proper service, they wouldn't build it there, thereby avoiding the extensive and expensive municipal hearings?

Or do they think that they're really hell-bent on seeing how many people they can tick off by finding the most controversial location they can find and pollute a pristine view?

The other common theme is the concern about radio frequency health effects. Before it sinks in, how many credible experts have to repeatedly present professional documentation that the radiation is many hundreds of times less than allowable safe government levels?

Government officials should take the time to research the available information about RF exposure so that they can allay any fears of RF illness and administrate hearings that are based upon local and federal ordinances and not unfounded fears.

Lately, NIMBY appears to be an acronym for No Intelligent Matter Befits Yielding.

Jack Winthrop
Seattle, WA

Is fatality focus misguided?

There seems to be a great amount of coverage on your site about the number of tower fatalities. However, there is seldom anything appearing regarding the number of serious accidents in the industry. Shouldn't you be focusing upon these since I would imagine that even if a tower worker didn't die, a nasty fall could result in paralysis and other life-long debilitations? 
Paul Hennert
Carlsbad, CA
Tower Safety 

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Editor's note: Your point is well received. There are many people in the industry who have fallen short distances and have suffered from traumatic injuries that will limit their way of life forever, both physically and financially. It is difficult to assess the types and number of incidents due to the lack of a central reporting agency. It is complicated enough to identify the number of fatalities in the industry; trying to monitor injuries would be a mammoth undertaking. Some viewers, however, have posted about their near misses in our Forum. This may provide some assistance in focusing upon how easily unsafe working practices can result in an accident. We also welcome posts from those people who had to provide emergency aid…below, at or above ground level.

Revision GThe site looks great
from a distance
Although I'm across the pond, I too have been visiting your web site for the last couple of years and find the content to be quite good. It is a shame that we do not have anything like your internet site in the U.K. 

I especially like the graphics that you provide with almost every article. It makes the story more interesting to read. Are most of the snapshots real or do you use Photo Shop on occasion?

I have been following this bird ruckus particularly closely and find it to be quite the story. It seems to be a favourite topic of conversation. It should prove interesting to see whether your government prevails.
John Marincowitz

Editor's Note: We wouldn't think of retouching any photographs or employing any editing programs for pictures on the web site.

Where have you been all my foundation life?
I've been coming to your site for a couple of years now and just realized that you have an estimating program. We use Timberline and it is excellent, but I use yours for estimating my foundations for the total cubic yards and then use our software modules to set the price. Have you ever thought of addingCell Tower Foundations to its functionality? Thanks for the easy to use program for calculating some areas of construction and the great amount of industry info you provide.
Roger Payton
Kansas City, MO

Editor's Note: To make it a full blown estimating program would be an expensive undertaking that could not be done without charging for the service. Our design intent is to provide a few additional tools that are not readily available elsewhere such as electrical estimating, site work pricing, foundation yardage and other frequently requested information. Plus, there are off-the-shelf software programs that can be structured to the wireless construction business - although many of them, like Timberline, come at a steep price.

Please keep in mind that any pricing in our program is an estimate and it will fluctuate based upon geographic and market conditions. Our goal is to keep companies from losing their Carhartt shirts by underestimating construction costs.

Reporting is not fair and balanced
Your article on avian fatalities is interesting - interesting only in the fact that it is one-sided and doesn't explore the irrefutable facts that birds are dying at an alarming rate due to the towers that have been built throughout the nation.

You mention that there have been no credible studies, but you fail to point out the Michigan Public Safety study that was done which identified that there is definitely a problem.Bird Kills

If you are going to write an article you would better serve your readers by being more objective and providing a balanced overview of the subject instead of the cell phone tower owners' and broadcasters' points of view.

I believe that's something that is taught in Journalism 101.

Peter Rewinski
Clearwater, FL

Editor's Note: The Michigan study was discussed in the article and we tried to contact Dr. Joelle Gehring, the study's principal investigator for additional information, but were unable to reach her.

Perhaps you didn't notice, but our news is focused upon the wireless design, construction and maintenance of communications towers, so it is imperative for us to identify and report upon issues that can affect the proper deployment of those structures.

Your concern is somewhat analogous to a reader of Audubon  castigating the publication for not publishing detailed information about the high cost to businesses and the public if towers had to be built under 200' in height as well as emphasizing the considerable expenses that will be incurred through conservancy-groups-promoted proposals in WT Docket No 03-187.

Oftentimes the truth is neither fair nor balanced. We've frequently found balance can't be a substitute for truth.

Tower Foreman Help WantedFree posting captures
gainful employment

Thank you to the staff of Wireless Estimator for placing my free ad in your positions wanted section.

I will start work Monday as a foreman for Andrew.
Patrick Wesseldine

Editor’s note: We’re pleased that we have been able to provide you with an opportunity with an excellent company and we’re happy that we’ve contributed to lowering the nation’s unemployment rate to 4.4%, its lowest level in years.

If you’re seeking new employment, please visit: Positions Wanted. Or you can ease the stress of finding competent employees by placing a free Help Wanted ad with us.

Believes the fab four should include Leap Wireless

Your news article about Cingular  talks about there being only four major carriers in the industry. I guess you didn't read that Leap Wireless announced that it has obtained two million customers, gaining over 161,000 new subscribers during the last quarter. I guess you must consider that chopped liver!
Dan Esperito,
San Diego, CALeap Wireless Subscribers

Editor's note: No, if we were Leap Wireless's execs we would call it a Bacchanalian feast and the wine would flow for days on end, but they're not close to the top four. Cingular is on top with almost 59 million customers and the lowest of the rotund four is T-Mobile with approximately 24 million subscribers.

To provide a comparison to tower owners, Crown Castle International will have 24,000 towers in the US when they complete the acquisition of Global Signal. Number four is Global Tower Partners with approximately 2,200 owned towers. An equivalent Leap Wireless-type tower owner would therefore own approximately 180 structures, certainly something we would be excited to write home about, but not necessarily important enough to include in every article about the major tower owners.

Site said to provide acquisition assistanceWireless Acquisitions
Thank you for being an industry leading reporter of timely, relevant and accurate information for the wireless industry. 

We at Arden Operating Company, LLC., have been seeking to acquire and operate service companies in the wireless sector.

In this effort, we have found “Wireless Estimator” to be an incredibly useful resource in finding leading companies and people – not to mention useful and accurate information on the market, key technology and products.

Keep up the great work!

Jeff Mucci
Managing Partner
Arden Operating Company, LLC.

A tip of the hat to SBA and Clinton Papenfuss
Thanks, Mr. Papenfuss, for the article on the inadequacies of TOWAIR. Although, as you say, it isTowair determination just another tool; unfortunately there are probably some tower owners and even carriers that use it as the gospel.

My hat is off to you and SBA for recognizing the need to explore all possibilities.

Although I'm sure it's to SBA's benefit to insure that there will not be problems down the line if a tower was found to be non-compliant, I applaud you for keeping the flying public safe.

David McKnight
Baltimore, MD

Multiple tenant spelling advice sought
I'm writing a freelance article on cell site collocations and am trying to identify if the proper term is collocation, colocation or co-location. I've seen it spelled differently in many publications and wasCell Tower Colocation wondering if you knew the proper usage when describing multiple tenants on a tower or when there is a sharing of rooftop resources.

Since your site appears to be the only one that professionally covers the tower industry I thought you might be able to answer my question.

Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide.

Eva Schur
Queens, NY

Editor's note: We checked a couple of style guides that were compressed between our TESSCO and Talley catalogues, but had little success. We went to the dean of style, The New York Times, and searched all of their articles since 1981. One tower colocation appeared in 2004 and a co-location surfaced in 1996. There were ten collocations, but none of them referenced towers.

A search of our web site found dozens of references using all three spellings. You could run with co-location or colocation since those have been the more acceptable terms in the computer and other established industries where multiple users are being addressed. 

However, you might run the risk of being castigated by colicky word police hiding behind every tenancy-tiered tower.

PCIA coverage and leak probing appreciated

Thanks for the great article on the tower company CEOs regarding our industry's future …which looks pretty darn good. I was surprised that the PCIA event received no attention in the major publications that cover our business, but I wasn't surprised that you covered it in great detail as you do with most Air Leaks articles.

In an era of cut and paste press release journalism and advertisements in the guise of editorial content, you folks have set the standard for objective, educational and interesting news in tower design and construction.

The story you published about transmission line leaks was unbelievably detailed and gave me more information than I ever expected about the subject. Keep it up.

Marc LeClair
Phoenix, AZ

Has no sympathy for those skirting the law
Thank you for the article about the Southwest Tower Contractor and his troubles with the IRS.

I have absolutely NO sympathy for this operator. Like safety, the business side of the operation Contractor 1099 should be attended to. He skirted the law, he knew he did it and he got caught. This isn't a legitimate dispute of tax law interpretation.

The issue of passing off sub-contractors as employees is well settled law in the US. The IRS has been after these violations for years. The ONLY reason a company does this is to avoid paying taxes and other overhead on the employees. As well, the employees usually don't pay taxes themselves and operate in an underground economy.

If the owner took on a contract for which he did not have the staff or have a reasonable plan to acquire staff to meet contracted levels, then it is his fault for managing his business improperly. His excuse that he "…was forced to subcontract workers at higher pay scales..." is pretty lame.  Anyone who has sympathy for this contractor is probably doing the very same things, i.e., using subs improperly.

It is unfair to other business owners when a contractor ignores their statutory obligations for the purpose of making an additional buck or to make life easy for themselves.

I suggest that the tower contractor go find the funds he should have paid; negotiate a payment arrangement with the IRS or get ready for years of the IRS chasing him.

Ken McLeod, President
CSG Wireless Incorporated
Gilbert, AZ