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Cell phone companies debate wireless world

• Regional planning department hears petitions today.

Posted: May 6, 2008 2:06 a.m.
Updated: July 7, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
What you cannot hear, see, taste, smell or feel is set aside for today's public hearings at the Department of Regional Planning.

Wireless transmission, specifically, five applications submitted by wireless firms, is on the table for public debate today at the department's regular public meeting in downtown Los Angeles.

The applications all involve modifications to wireless infrastructure set up in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Although a few of the applications involve building anew or renovating existing equipment, most of the applications on the table today are to renew existing permits allowing the companies to operate here.

It's all part of maintaining the burgeoning world of wireless dependability, says a spokesman for T-Mobile, one of the firms applying today.

"We live in a wireless world, and what I told people at a conference in Las Vegas last weekend was 'Will your community be ready?'" said Rod De La Rosa, senior external affairs manager for the engineering and operations department of the western region of T-Mobile.

Last weekend, he gave a seminar to planners at the American Planning Association's National Conference in Las Vegas about the importance of maintaining wireless technology.

"Everything that you're describing (text messaging, cell phones, wireless hubs) are all things we're cementing into what we're doing," De La Rosa said. "We want to make sure we have a consistent reliable infrastructure."

If today's planning agenda included such things as permission to build condos or re-zone land, regional planners might expect some feedback from the public. Not so when it comes to telecommunication plans, said a department planner.

Maria Masis, senior regional planning assistant with the Department of Regional Planning, told The Signal Monday that the telecommunications applications are so routine she doesn't expect anyone from the public to comment on any of them.

"My job is try and schedule all of these types of applications together," she said, adding the department handles "hundreds of thousands" of applications for wireless technology applications.

"These probably will go by pretty fast," she said about the lineup of wireless applications.

T-Mobile, which according to De La Rosa just hit the 30 million subscribers mark, is submitting three of the five applications..

One is requesting permission to continue using an unmanned wireless telecommunications facility in the watershed, three miles north of Interstate 5 and Highway 138 in an area zoned for Castaic Canyon.

T-Mobile also wants to make "slight improvements" to another existing unmanned wireless telecommunications facility, in the district zoned for the east end of Soledad Canyon Road.

The company also wants to add eight panel antennas to an existing antenna already set up in a "light agricultural" zone on The Old Road close to where I- 5 and Highway 14 meet.

In addition, Omnipoint Communications Inc. - a wholly-owned subsidiary of T-Mobile - has an application to set up its own infrastructure next to an existing setup on Sand Canyon Road just east of Sierra Highway.

Verizon Wireless is also applying for permission to build, operate and maintain a wireless telecommunications facility on at least one acre of land in the eastern part of the Antelope Valley, in an area zoned for light agriculture.

De La Rosa pointed out at the recent planning conference that 80 percent of Americans use a cell phone, and 14 percent of Americans are completely wireless with no landline phone in their home.

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