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Fort Collins to improve cell connectivity after years of complaints from community

Fort Collins to improve cell connectivity after years of complaints from community
Fort Collins to improve cell connectivity after years of complaints from community 02:57

The City of Fort Collins has announced plans to revise its zoning codes in an effort to improve cellphone service, an announcement that comes one month after CBS News Colorado first reported that the lack of coverage was costing taxpayers more than $500,000 and posing a public safety risk.

The city now plans to relax some of its longtime zoning codes in an effort to make building towers more achievable for all cell providers.

City planner, Will Lindsey, told CBS News Colorado late last year that the historically bad cell service was a direct result of the city's zoning codes. 

He noted that residents decades ago expressed a strong distaste for the appearance of towers, pressuring lawmakers to then create codes that forced cell providers to meet many strict standards in order to install towers. 


In an effort to preserve the aesthetics of the popular city, codes were created that limited not only how tall towers could be, but also how they had to match the look of their surrounding community without impeding on local neighborhoods. 

Since those codes were created the public's reliance on strong coverage for entertainment, communications, and more have exploded. 

As first reported by CBS News Colorado, Fort Collins police announced cell coverage was so unreliable that they were spending more than $500,000 in taxpayer money to improve their police laptop technologies. 

The laptops previously only worked on one provider. The new upgrades now allow the laptops to bounce between, or combine cell providers, to increase signal.


At the time, Larimer County Sheriff, Justin Smith, says his office had a similar concern with their laptops not working throughout major communities in Fort Collins. 

He said his office did not have the funding to make the changes that Fort Collins police were making. 

However, he joined FCPS in saying he had concerns that the public would not be able to reach 911 during emergencies due to potential dropped calls. 


Lindsey independently confirmed a report first published by The Coloradoan that the city now plans to ease the pathway forward for building towers. 

The city will now make building towers near residential areas more simple so long as they still meet clearly outlined guidelines on appearance and size. 


Lindsey told CBS News Colorado that a prime example of a location where a tower may now be permitted is on the property of a local church that is surrounded by a neighborhood.

The city also plans to create further and more detailed guidelines on what they expect towers to look like or where they can be, so providers don't have to hesitate as much on their applications to build.

Lindsey says the problem would not be fixed overnight. He told CBS News Colorado that creating a stronger service grid across all providers could take more than a year, possibly two. 

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