By Karen Billing
Staff WriterRancho Santa Fe will get a boost in cell phone coverage thanks to a new AT&T tower in the Fairbanks Ranch area. The new 65-foot tower, disguised as a pine tree, is located close to an existing tree-like Sprint tower hidden in a wooded area off San Dieguito Road. The new tower went “live” on July 29.
William Haifley, general manager of the Fairbanks Ranch Association, said the new tower was driven by a combination of resident requests and the cellular phone company. Many residents had complained that they were not getting any service from AT&T on their Iphones.
“AT&T showed up and said they wanted to put up a cell tower and it all happened about the same time that people were complaining about it,” Haifley said. “Lots of people were cheering it on.”
Haifley said a few concerns were voiced from residents about health and safety issues, but the Fairbanks Ranch Association looked at research by the American Cancer Society and determined that the Fairbanks towers are safe in their isolated spot as no residences are located within 300-500 feet of the towers.
Already people are seeing an improvement in service.
“We get plenty of reception now,” he said.
A recent visitor to Fairbanks Ranch who said his iPhone never worked there was delighted when his phone “lit up like a Christmas tree” with all five bars activated.
Frequent commuters through Fairbanks Ranch on San Dieguito Rd. had learned that their AT&T phones would not work past the intersection of El Apajo all the way up to Camino Del Norte. The coverage is now much better on the road— although hands-free devices only should be used while driving.
Haifley said coverage may get even better as Fairbanks Ranch’s sister community to the east, Santaluz, is in the process of installing an additional AT&T tower nearby.