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Commissioners receptive to plan to install additional antennas

By Bryan Richardson

Commissioners seemed receptive of installing a distributed antenna system throughout the city to accommodate residents’ increased data usage for smart phones and other devices.

Wildflower Telecommunications, a subsidiary of IdeaTek Systems, wants to install 48 system antennas that it will lease to Verizon.

The system provides increased services with antennas that are either attached to existing utility poles or new poles. Each antenna has a range of three to five city blocks.

The commission discussed the issue Tuesday, but system installation will require a franchise agreement.

IdeaTek reached an agreement with Wichita in May to install the system. Wichita will receive $1,000 per pole ($100 per year for 10 years), permit fees and 5 percent of gross leasing revenue.

IdeaTek also has been in talks with Overland Park and Junction City.

Jill Droge, IdeaTek director of sales and marketing, said large cell towers are reaching capacity because of the number of devices using data, causing the shrinking coverage.

“The need for the capacity has increased, and it’s skyrocketing,” she said.

Droge said there is potential to stack antennas as other providers join the system.

The antennas in Manhattan would be based mostly on the east side and near Kansas State University. The locations are selected based on data usage studies.

Butler said this is something the city should pursue.

“A lot of people are getting away from landlines,” he said.

The commission was also scheduled to vote on creating a benefit district for alley and sidewalk improvements associated with the Bluemont Hotel, but city staff removed it from the agenda.

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