Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, Sept. 21

New cellular tower brings service to Western Navajo

TUBA CITY — Static, no signal, and few service areas are something that cellular customers will soon forget. Thanks to initial efforts by Lorenzo Maxx and service by ALLTEL, a new cellular tower will soon have its juice.

“We anticipate going on in the next three weeks,” says Wendy Wheeler, Vice President of External Affairs for ALLTEL, “and we are projecting coverage in Tuba City as well as the western portion of the reservation. This tower will enhance [service to] the western side.”

The new tower, which has been in place for some time and is located on top of Preston Mesa, is owned by Crown Castle, a company that builds cell towers and rents them to cellular servicing companies, such as ALLTEL.

Says Larry Hughes, Vice President of Crown Castle, Southwest Region, the tower has both paging and cell phone abilities, but it’s up to the company renting the space to decide what service to provide.

Right now, ALLTEL is the only service provider renting space on the tower and will initially offer analog service.

However small the first step, Lorenzo Maxx, owner of Radio Shack, has been anticipating this for a long time.

“When I first went into this business several years ago, I made contact with other cellular companies. Although they told us that cellular service would be available in six months to a year, nothing was ever done. Cellular One was the first to make a move on it, and ALLTEL is picking up the slack and continuing their expansion through Northern Arizona,” he says.

Cellular One was purchased by ALLTEL almost one year ago and Radio Shack simply went with the flow.

“Service is needed out here because we get a lot of traffic, not just locally, but from Monument Valley, Lake Powell, and I imagine, overflow from National Parks such as the Grand Canyon,” says Maxx.

Customers, continues Maxx, also come in a round-a-bout way.

“We get quite a few customers who bought their phone in town, but those service providers do not have any service here. Lots of times, those customers deactivate due to lack of service and lose out on both their cell phone and monetary benefits.”

“Radio Shack has a powerful influence on the cellular market, and Radio Shack, believe it or not, sells more cellular phones then Target, BestBuy and Circuit City combined,” says Maxx, “Having a Radio Shack in Tuba City really propelled them to invest money in a tower. Customers have a place to go when they have a problem.”

ALLTEL currently services Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Colorado, and El Peso, Texas. This new tower will propel them as the sole service provider to the reservation and propel the reservation to the 21st century.

Radio Shack is an authorized dealer of ALLTEL and plans to open the pathways to other high technology tools as well.

“During our ‘golden quarter’, September through December, our Direct TV sold $200 to $300 a month. Now we are trying to sell the concept of pagers. Radio Shack also has high-speed Internet available. Through a satellite and a computer available only through Radio Shack, you can surf the web 27 to 50 times faster than with a regular phone connection. You don’t need a phone, all you need is electricity, so people who live further out of town and who have electricity, can now access the Internet,” says Maxx.

The new tower in Tuba is only the first step.

“We’re helping pave the way in bringing out these high technologies … so the people here can enjoy them as well,” says Maxx.

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