April 3, 2015 — Craig Gates, CEO, DTC Communications, is still shaking his head in disbelief about the freakish nature of the accident that befell his cell tower. A 300-foot cell tower owned by DTC Communications atop Harrison Ferry Mountain in Tennessee was downed two weeks ago when a driver left the road and ran into a guy wire anchor.
It was around 9 a.m. when a 24-year-old man allegedly fell asleep at the wheel, left a state highway, ran through a fence surrounding a cell tower compound and rammed a guy wire anchor, sending that tower to the ground.
“He went down three foot bank and traveled a good 175 feet through a field and then hit the guywire exactly,” Gates said. “If he was awake and trying [to hit the anchor point], I don’t think he could have done it.”
And that’s not all. Although structure missed the radio shack on its way down, it sliced through the power to the tower and electrical transmission lines, as well as a fiberoptic cable, knocking out the power and wireline voice, data video to the area. “It disrupted the lives of the people in and around McMinnville [Tennessee] up to a good eight hours,” Gates said.
DTC Communications had antennas on the tower using 700 MHz and 850 MHz bands for GSM, UMTS and LTE coverage. Verizon Wireless and SI Wireless (dba MobileNation) also had antennas on the tower. There were three microwave dishes on the tower, as well, being used for backhaul.
DTC Communications rented a cell on wheels for its antennas, which at 100 feet AGL provides much less coverage compared with the 300-foot tower. Verizon Wireless brought in its own COW, but SI Wireless, which has an LTE roaming agreement with Sprint, has not set up a temporary communications systems. DTC’s insurance will cover the cost of Verizon Wireless’ COW deployment.
“We plan to rebuild the site. We took bids last week and we will need to get with our insurance adjuster. The young man did not own the car that he was driving, so we are not sure the car is insured, and even if it was, there would probably be a maximum of $100,000 of coverage and this is going to cost a lot more than that. Our property insurance will kick in where his leaves off,” Gates said.
Once DTC gives the go ahead, the estimates state that it will take six to eight weeks to rebuild the tower. Adding salt to the wound, DTC had just completed reinforcing the tower to handle the additional load of LTE antennas and remote radio heads last year.
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