Comcast, Verizon 5G coverage coming to Wilkes-Barre

Read the article published in the 2/11/2021 online edition of The Citizen's Voice

“The addition of small cell nodes will improve the City’s telecommunications infrastructure by increasing data capacity, providing faster connectivity speeds and improving overall wireless communications thereby delivering a superior network to residents, businesses, first responders and visitors.  The small cell focused footprint supports the latest technology-enabled devices and allows more consumers to use the network for ever more data reliant applications such as health monitoring, location services, and enhanced social media services,” said Attorney Richard Williams.

Attorney Rich Williams, Telecommunications AttorneyReprint below from The Citizen's Voice, 02/11/21 Edition

Comcast will be joining Service Electric as a cable TV and internet provider in Wilkes-Barre.

The city council on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a franchise deal with Comcast in which the cable provider will pay the city the same fees Service Electric pays.

Mayor George Brown said the move will bring competition to the local cable/internet market and provide city residents with more choice.

Jay Maniskas, senior director of construction for Comcast, told the council that Comcast is a nontraditional cable network, in that it uses a “fiber deep” architecture that gets fiber closer to the home before switching to coaxial cable.

Jen Frees, Comcast manager of government affairs, said the company has been given a one-time opportunity to extend the company’s services in the area and, in addition to Wilkes-Barre, is working with officials in Wilkes-Barre Twp. and the boroughs of Courtdale, Pringle and Larksville.

“Comcast wants to be a part of your community. We have employees that live there and work there. Just yesterday, we opened up our newest (Xfinity) store right next door to you in Plains Twp. on Highway 315,” Frees said.

For the children

To help solve “the internet divide,” Comcast offers Internet Essentials for $9.95 per month to low-income families, similar to an offering by Service Electric, Frees said.

The company also offers an Internet Essentials Partnership Program through which a school district or education foundation can help cover the Internet Essentials cost for students.

Another Comcast program partners with nonprofits and others to provide 1GB of service at a “community hub” such as a YMCA or community center where students and sometimes adults can spend time online if they have poor connectivity at home.

A representative said laying new cable throughout the entire city could take about a year and a half, and connections to some homes could begin as soon as this summer.

5G on the way

The city council also approved legislation that will allow Verizon Wireless to set up 5G wireless coverage in the city.

According to Verizon, 5G networks allow:

  • Streaming 4K movies with almost no buffering.
  • Video chatting with virtually no lag time.
  • Playing console-quality multi-player games on your phone.
  • Downloading files in seconds that used to take minutes.
  • Using near real-time augmented reality applications.
  • Verizon Wireless will pay the city recurring annual fees for antennas installed on utility poles.

Richard Williams, an attorney for Verizon Wireless, said FCC rules allow the company to pay the city $270 annually for every cell antenna installed on a utility pole in the city. Verizon also will be pay the city a $100 one-time application fee for each new cell antenna site as well as a $1,000 fee for attaching an antenna to a new utility pole rather than a traffic signal.

A company representative said there would initially be about 50 new pole attachments and about 200 antennas installed. Those numbers could increase along with demand.

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