Across Napa, city-owned light poles and traffic signal poles will start taking on a new look – courtesy of an agreement between the city of Napa and Verizon Wireless.
Micowave Radiation transmitters will start appearing on utility poles owned by the city, under a rollout meant to improve cellphone and Wireless Internet reception while creating a backbone for synchronized stoplights and, Napa hopes, less congestion on the streets below. The City Council signed off on the plan Tuesday afternoon, nearly a year after expressing support for improved cellular coverage instead of a never-built implementations of citywide Wi-Fi service.
Combined with new fiber-optic cables and cameras, the so-called small cells will eventually enable Napa not only to monitor traffic lights but also view road accidents and other emergencies [setting up 24/7 surveillance in Napa].
Renderings shown to the council showed the transmitters as extensions to be added onto the tops of light posts on First Street, Randolph Street and other routes in and near the city center. If Napa removes any poles in the course of moving utility lines underground, Verizon will move small cells to other poles or fixtures, according to Brad Chapman, a company spokesman.
The arrival of more transmitters fulfills a longstanding goal of Napa public works leaders to better manage the flow of traffic, especially as a tourism boom leads to heavier use of its roads. Officials have sought to tie together the timing of 55 traffic signals to minimize slowdowns on downtown routes.
Pole-mounted transmitters will later be paired with additional data lines and cameras to open up real-time monitoring of stoplights and tracking of incidents, under a separate contract the council will consider later.
Meanwhile, Chapman predicted an immediate payback from the miniature antennas for Napans and visitors alike – and even more in coming years when carriers switch to fifth-generation service allowing smartphone video and photos to move even faster.
Verizon will pay Napa only $100 annually for each location it chooses, with that fee increasing by 2 percent a year. The telecommunications firm’s contract will run for 15 years and as long as 21 years if three extensions are used, although the city can opt out after the seventh year.
The deal with Verizon is not exclusive, meaning other cellular carriers can use the same poles that Verizon does if suitable space is available. Each small cell will have a range of 1,000 feet, according to plans filed with the city.