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Church Steeple Helps With Cell Phone Communications

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Communication has reached new heights, thanks to a partnership between AT&T and a local Catholic church.

Mary Bubala reports some call it a direct line to God.

In Federal Hill, the steeple at Holy Cross Church on West Street reaches more than seven stories high.  Built more than 150 years ago, the steeple acted as one of the first sources of communication, tolling its bells to bring people in town to worship.  But now this historic church is the source of a new sound.  The steeple at Holy Cross Church is now a stealth cell site.

"Parishes struggle financially and AT&T has been very cooperative and collaborative in helping us preserve our church, keep it open without disturbing any of the architectural structure or the sacredness of it," said Father Patrick Carrion.  "Churches have always been evangelizing, communicating network, whether on the shores of Galilee or the shores of the Inner Harbor."

AT&T was anxious to expand its coverage in Baltimore City, but knew erecting a traditional cell phone tower in Federal Hill wouldn't work. So as part of the company's $19 billion nationwide investment in wireless networks, its wires now weave through the church and all the way up the steeple, but out of sight of parishioners.

"We are really excited about what this is going to deliver for Baltimore and the Federal Hill-area customers have been asking us for more and more coverage in this area," said AT&T Vice President Rob Forsyth.

It's a win-win situation with a steady stream of revenue for Holy Cross Church.

The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on Charles Street also has a cell site in one of its steeples.  Neither church nor AT&T would disclose the financial arrangement but the revenue stays at each parish.

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