BY MITCHELL KIRK
---- — Construction has started on a tower west of Logansport that will be transmitting Verizon Wireless cell service by the end of the year, an employee of a communications company working on the project said.
S and R Communications, a partnership between Swayzee Communications and Rochester Telephone Co., is currently taking on a project of erecting more than 20 towers transmitting Verizon Wireless service in Cass County and the surrounding area.
Its most recent tower is going up west of Logansport and could be finished as soon as late next week, said Chad Morgan, a project manager with S and R.
"We're building towers all along the U.S. 24 cooridor," Morgan said, adding that towers will also be going up in or near Adamsboro, Richvalley, Peru, Wabash and the counties of Miami, Wabash, Carroll and Fulton.
S and R will be leasing 4G LTE, or long-term evolution, Verizon service through a national project called LRA, or LTE Over Rural America.
"It's a roaming-only network for current Verizon customers and with us coming out in the near future, once we go live, we'll be the solution to rural areas that can't even really get [digital subscriber line]," Morgan said.
Morgan said construction on the tower outside Logansport began June 1 and could be finished as early as late this week. This tower, along with six others in the project's first phase, will likely start transmitting service by the end of this year, he added.
The towers will only transmit Verizon's latest LTE service and not any of its older networks, Morgan went on say.
"Verizon customers with LTE phones will get much better data speeds," Morgan said.
S and R currently has a 20-year lease with Verizon Wireless to distribute the service.
"If you're a Verizon customer, you're going to be on a Verizon product but it will be owned by S and R communications," Morgan said. "The user will not see one bit of difference. They're thinking they're on the Verizon network."
A survey on the Pharos-Tribune's Facebook page received several responses welcoming the news.
"It definitely will bring Logansport back up to where it needs to be," said Steven Rohde, adding that other providers either already transmit service in Logansport or have stated plans to do so.
"Verizon is the only one lacking," Rohde added. "Too many people move to Logansport only to find out one of the major phone providers doesn't service the area. While having Verizon 4G won't lead to any development or anything, it does make our town seem more like the rest of the world rather than a little burg in the middle of nowhere."
Vicki Gordon, a Verizon customer since leaving Logansport for Florida, wrote she is considering remaining with Verizon now that she's back.
"Been a loyal Verizon user since I lived in Florida," she wrote. "Since I've been back to Logan I have seriously thought about switching.... maybe I will just stay with them now so I can get what I'm paying for."
Morgan said this 20-year relationship with Verizon could possibly bring more opportunities between the service provider and Indiana's rural areas.
"We're offering this and who knows what the future will bring," he said. "From there, the sky's the limit with what the possibilities are with this network. It's a win-win for Verizon and S and R."
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.