By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer
INDIAN HILL - Dropped calls could become a thing of the past next spring for some cell-phone users traveling through the Miami Road corridor.
In an effort to help close gaps in service, city planning commissioners OK'd a request by Cincinnati Bell Wireless to erect three 70-foot utility poles and install three micro-cells from Indian Hill Road headed toward Madeira.
The 3-foot boxes, mounted on poles more than twice the height of typical utility poles, are meant as a temporary fix.
"(It) will provide substantial improvement in coverage in a high traffic area until we can find a long-term solution that is acceptable to the community," Bell spokeswoman Jenifer Kues said.
The company had been in talks with the city for months after surveying Indian Hill customers about cell-phone problems. City officials expect the equipment to be in operation in March.
City Manager Michael Burns said Miami Road is one of the worst areas for cell-phone gaps because it is so heavily traveled.
"It's the area where most problems occur because it has the highest traffic volume," Burns said. "Miami Road picks up a lot folks who are either traveling through the village or coming home from work or going to work who are trying to make cell-phone calls."
Bell so far is the only wireless company that asked the city to bend the rules to allow cell structures that aren't shared with another wireless company, he said.
Commissioners granted the request on a one-year trial basis. They will then evaluate the effectiveness of the micro-cells and any problems the equipment might cause residents.
In the meantime, a consultant will study long-term solutions for cell-phone coverage in Indian Hill, which now has sites at Camargo Country Club, the city administration building and inside the steeple at Armstrong Chapel.
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