Verizon and AT&T provide cellular to Cindy McCain’s ranch; So what?

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]

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14 Responses to Verizon and AT&T provide cellular to Cindy McCain’s ranch; So what?

  1. DragonVPM says:

    As someone who works in the construction industry it seems reasonable to point out that their ranch probably had to pay for the water/well system, sewer/septic system, electrical/generator system, etc… Pretty much everything out there was either paid for by the owner’s of the ranch, or was already out there.

    Anyone who builds a subdivision or develops land knows that providing utilities (both basics like water and niceties like cable) is part and parcel of the deal. If cell phone service is so critical to the campaign then the campaign or the McCains should have paid for it the way they paid for everything else out there. Even when you live relatively close to the city, it’s not uncommon for the various companies/utilities involved to bill whoever develops the land or requests the service.

    I’ve seen people shell out $10k-$20k to have water run to their properties because they can afford it and they want water service a mile or so away from the nearest water main. They pay the costs for it and they get their water.

    I find it difficult to believe that the McCains couldn’t afford to have have a cell tower put out there if it was necessary. I bet you they have and paid for some way of having water and electricity out there because that was necessary too.

    This definitely smacks of doing someone a favor in hopes of reaping some benefit for it down the road. Even if he loses, he’ll still be a senator with a fair bit of clout and I doubt he’ll forget their help during the campaign. I’d be curious to see that arrangement audited to see just how much Verizon & AT&T gave the campaign by way of putting those temporary units out there.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I think it’s a fine use of the COWs. The problem is that the equipment is being provided for free.

  3. 5000! says:

    The real question is whether they would’ve provided them to the Obama campaign for free as well. My guess is they probably would’ve.

  4. donopolis says:

    I second that…

    This use of the cows is okay, really more for an emergency situation, storm outages and such, but I can see the point…however, the companies stumbling over themselves to provide the service for free is just sick…

    Don

  5. Enochrewt says:

    #1: Free? Don’t they pay their bills? I’d just file this one under customer service. That, and maybe some executive at Verizon is patriotic and would like to see government run as smoothly as they could (nominee aside) by doing their part.

    People that criticize making things work better should be shot.

  6. huntsu says:

    It’s the “free” aspect of it when they guy getting the free cell tower is also on the committee that regulates the phone industry.

    If I wanted a tower at my vacation home where cell service sucks, you can bet they would charge me for it.

  7. g.park says:

    The question is: what would AT&T charge a private citizen to have one of these COW’s set up? I doubt this is a free service they provide to anyone who asks, so it could be argued that the provision of this equipment & service constitutes a donation to the McCain campaign.

  8. TraverJ says:

    COWs are always used in areas of higher than expected traffic and in outage situations. This is a classic higher than expected traffic situation and if they did not put in a COW they would be spending more time and money dealing with the complaints. Which in this case would be bumped up to the executive level based on the fact it is the Secret Service and the McCain Campaign complaining. While it doesn’t make monetary sense to build a tower there – look for them to consider changing that if McCain wins. In that case the Secret Service will be running multiple T-type lines in for their long-term comms needs and putting a tower/switching closet would then make sense as the infrastructure would have to be built anyways.

  9. AirPillo says:

    The “free of charge” point is likely the intended controversy that they’re trying so hard to manufacture.

    In all likelihood both companies were probably trying to look like they were doing a civic service by making sure a senator and presidential candidate had communications access… and on a slow news day it’s easy enough to warp that into implied claims of some sort of personal favor for a politician.

    Newsmen turn pretty rancid during election years, everything political becomes an easy story to run and people seem to get lazy overestimating just how stupid their readership (or viewers, listeners, whatever) are.

  10. Dr Tran says:

    Surely they could have just stayed at one of their other mansions, right?

  11. flytch says:

    this is great… and this is a temporary set up :)
    I would only be upset if they put up a tower (at our (other users) expense)… not bad use of a COW at all…
    and to those who say they should not be provided free… what happens when your nearest tower goes down due to storm? they would use a COW “free of charge” to your area as well… so no biggy there…
    here in oklahoma they are are launching balloons which serve a very similar purpose… so this set up is not at all like an expensive tower system…

  12. Anonymous says:

    I could use a “getaway from presidential candidate John McCain,” if you know what I mean.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Joel –

    Please report to the nearest left wing indoctrination camp for a refresher course.

    Your transgressions include disputing a story in the Washington Post and siding with a know Republican.

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