New Cell Tower Brings Coverage to Red Cliff |

New Cell Tower Brings Coverage to Red Cliff

Emily Ness
Updated: February 02, 2020 10:32 PM

A new cell tower on the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation has been the talk of the town for some time. In this rural area, poor connection has long been a problem for residents, tourists and first responders. But, after years of planning and months of construction—the tower they've been talking about is complete and operational.

“For the reservation itself, this is game changing. It brings the Red Cliff reservation into the 20th Century,” Theron Rutyna, IT Director for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation said.

The tower is located one mile off of Highway 13 and 3 miles north of Bayfield. It stands 300 feet tall and will cover a wide range of places.

“The tower will cover the town of Russel, portions of the town of Bayfield, portions of Madeline Island, portions of the islands around Madeline Island that are uninhabited, over 80% of the residential area of the reservation itself and then it'll shadow all the way out to the Bayfield Hill,” Rutyna said.

The tower was built by AT&T in conjunction with First Net—a nationwide emergency network commissioned by congress to create a ubiquitous network for first responders across the country.

“Personally, growing up around here, there's a lot of dead zones around here and that's kind of impacted car collisions and things that happen out on the lake,” Peyton Keith of Bayfield said. “This past summer there was a really big just loss on the lake since there's so many dead zones around here and hopefully that will kind of help.”

Through the tower, coverage is expected to jump from 20 percent to 80 percent in populated areas. During large events and emergencies, this could make all the difference.

“Before the tower was here the last time the ice caves opened, it entirely saturated cell service in the area. Now while it would still saturate a tower of this type and all of the surrounding towers, the first responders would be able to ride above that traffic using first net priority and be able to keep talking even though the commercial users were saturated,” Rutyna said.

In addition to better cell service, better internet service will come as a result of the tower.

“AT&T will be putting the mobile services for voice and cellular phone coverage on the tower and then Bayfield Wireless will be working with the tribe to put high speed internet facilities on there for the local community and residents,” Mike Cariveau, CEO of Bayfield Wireless said.

Locals are already taking advantage of the new service.

“My Mom works for the tribe in Red Cliff and they just switched their carrier service from Verizon to AT&T and so you know, they're hoping to kind of move forward in that direction and open up some cell service,” Keith said.

Through the new cell tower, people hope to venture out and experience more areas with confidence that they will be safe and connected. 

"The tower is up and running as of 10:00am Friday morning," Rutyna said.


Emily Ness

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