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Water Tower Fire Wipes Out WiMAX and Cell Phone Service on Madison, Wisconsin’s West Side

Phillip Dampier May 20, 2010 Consumer News, TDS Telecom, Video 1 Comment

This empty water tower in Madison, Wis. caught fire Friday as workers began painting preparations, disrupting wireless communications services on the city's west side for months. (Photo: WMTV Madison)

A water tower fire on Madison’s west side has wiped out WiMAX broadband service for at least 150 fixed wireless broadband customers, leaving them cut off for so long, provider TDS Telecom is canceling their service and assisting customers in switching providers.

A Madison utility manager said workers Friday were preparing to paint the 100,000-gallon tower in the 2700 block of Prairie Road when insulation around communications cables caught fire.  Smoke was visible from the empty water tower for miles, and several nearby homes had to be evacuated because of fears of a potential collapse.

City engineers have since deemed the tower safe, but the real impact will be several months of interrupted broadband and cell service from several area providers who depended on the tower as an antenna site.  The tower was particularly crucial to TDS Telecom, which depended on its strategic location to deliver its wireless broadband service in western Madison.  It will take several months to restore service.

“Based on our discussions with the City, we anticipate it could take a very long time to repair the damaged tower,” states DeAnne Boegli, TDS National Public Relations Manager. “Since this is the only viable tower location TDS can use to serve these homes, and because temporary solutions are not available, our customer’s best option is to select another facilities-based communications provider.”

TDS will assist all 147 impacted customers in changing their service without penalty and remove the equipment from customer homes at their request and convenience. The company is also providing the customers a month’s service credit.

“Unfortunately, this accident has left us with no reliable or timely restoration options. TDS understands communications services are critical to our customers and we want to get them transitioned as quickly as possible, even though it means they must select another provider,” said Boegli.

Affected cell phone companies are trying to establish temporary cell tower sites to improve service in the area while repairs get underway.

WMTV-TV in Madison broke into regular programming to deliver a special report on the fire.  We’ve also included some raw video of the fire.  (11 minutes)

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. DAVID ehm says:

    Well, those residents can breathe a sigh of relief for a short while as they won’t be blasted with wi-max wi fi super radio frequency radiation on steroids. before the fire their dna was being blasted.
    perhaps someone set the fire as an act of self defense !!

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  • Ian Littman: One catch here is that Comcast's own xfinitywifi network is *not* available to CableWiFi customers; you have to have a Comcast account to use it or pa...
  • Josh: I don't know how anyone passes laws like that, or upholds them or whatnot with a straight face. It couldn't possibly be more blatantly because you're...
  • Paul Houle: This is a sad day. Many of the states involved with these fights are the ground zeroes of the broadband struggle. While Wheeler pursues suburban p...
  • Lee: Ah the magic of corporate debt to pay dividends. They are not the first nor will they be the last to use debt to pay dividends....
  • Jackripper: What bs so now we are stuck with limited services and no consumer choice. Like mobs owning their own domain. How thuggish....
  • Josh: Still totally irrelevant so long as they have laughably tiny caps....
  • Derpson: Just ran speedtest on my galaxy s7, got a blazing 8/1. They need more towers next!...
  • Phillip Dampier: A paid subscription is required to access the article in question which is why you are probably having an issue. I have captured a screenshot which is...
  • Paul Houle: @rcxb, it could be worse. You could live in Frontier Country where you pay $90 a month for phone + 1 Mb/s DSL. Fiber prices for smoke signal s...
  • jhf5: I wonder what is in store for New York, wondering if 100Mb/ s will be standard service or not, NYSPC requirements say 100 required, though I am not su...
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