The Washington Post examines the installation of mobile cellular towers — COWs, or “cellular on wheels” trucks — that extend wireless coverage to Cindy McCain’s Sedona, Arizona ranch which has served as a getaway from presidential candidate John McCain.
Verizon ultimately abandoned its effort to install a permanent tower in August. Company spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said the project would be “an inappropriate way” to build its network. “It doesn’t make business sense for us to do that,” he added.
Instead, Verizon delivered a portable tower known as a “cell site on wheels” – free of charge – to the McCain property in June, after the Secret Service began inquiring about improving coverage in the area. Such devices are used for providing temporary capacity where coverage is lacking or has been knocked out, in circumstances ranging from the Super Bowl to hurricanes.
In July, AT&T followed suit, wheeling in a portable tower for free to match Verizon’s offer. “This is an unusual situation,” AT&T spokeswoman Claudia B. Jones said. “You can’t have a presidential nominee in an area where there is not cell coverage.”
There are likely dozens of people out on that ranch at the moment, including the aforementioned Secret Service agents. Installing a permanent tower (which both Verizon and AT&T seem to have chosen not to do) might have been irresponsible, but providing temporary cell access for special situations is exactly what the COWs are for. To imply that putting the mobile cellular trucks out on the home base of one of two presidential nominees temporarily is somehow inappropriate seems to be overstating it.
Exclusive: Verizon and AT&T Provided Cell Towers for McCain Ranch [WashingtonPost.com]