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Longboat's north-end cell signal upgrade completed

Verizon's project to add nine poles wraps up with activation and better service.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. January 10, 2023
Seven of the nine poles are on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The remaining two are in residential neighborhoods.
Seven of the nine poles are on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The remaining two are in residential neighborhoods.
Photo by Lauren Tronstad
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Verizon customers on the north end of Longboat Key say they are receiving stronger cellphone signals, as promised by the wireless communications company, now that all nine new poles have been activated. 

The 25- and 35-foot poles went on the air about two weeks ago. 

“The Verizon wireless improvement, particularly at the north end, is a major step forward in improving cell service for Verizon users on the island,” Public Works Director Isaac Brownman wrote in an email. “Verizon was the first of three major carriers to ‘answer the call’ of the town to work on improving and enhancing each of their respective wireless signal services on the island.”

Not only are customers seeing more dependable signals, but coverage has also improved, they say.

“We certainly have noticed a difference,” north-end resident Paul Hylbert said. “We are less than 100 feet from one of the poles, so we always have four bars. The service has not only improved, but we have experienced no drops in service at all.”

Vice Mayor Maureen Merrigan said she has heard similar sentiments from residents, but nothing overwhelming one way or the other. As she is not a customer of Verizon, she has not been able to form her own opinion on the matter. 

“We now need to finish the work and continue to work with other providers to improve their reception on the Key,” she said. 

The natural next step in her eyes is to enter into an agreement with AT&T about improving service in a similar manner. Conversations are continuing between the provider and the town in hopes of enhancing service and coverage on the island. 

Such a company would have to come to a business agreement with Verizon, and the locations of the poles would have to mesh with the other company’s network needs. Potentially, other carriers could make a similar applications to the town to erect their own poles, though the town’s 60-foot spacing requirements, height rules and other specifications would still apply. 

Assembly of the nine poles was completed in July. Seven of the nine are 35-foot poles, which were placed along Gulf of Mexico Drive. 

The other two that were placed within north-end neighborhoods were capped at 25-feet. They are on Binnacle Point Drive and at the corner of Broadway Street and Lois Drive. 

The poles were required to be black to match the color and general appearance of streetlights planned for installation as part of the town’s underground utility project. When possible, placement was hidden among trees to decrease visibility to passers-by. 


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