NC county ready to build huge Internet towers

Twenty-two towers would provide a high-speed network for local schools, making download speeds 100 times faster.

After assuaging concerns about high winds, earthquakes and terrorism, Davidson County Schools in North Carolina are dumping the old T1 lines for a network of wireless communications towers, The (NC) Dispatch reports.

A total of 22 80-to-130-foot tall concrete towers will be built to provide high-speed Internet connections to 31 schools, under a plan approved at a county Board of Commissioners meeting.

"This is why we're here," said Christine Hunt, director of media services and technology for the county schools, as she displayed a photo of an elementary child holding a laptop computer. " ... We're preparing these children for the digital age."

With the wireless towers, Internet connections would be 100 times faster, allowing schools to utilize educational Web sites, software that is available only by downloading online, videoconferencing and distance learning, and online textbook resources.

There were some safety concerns, which needed to be addressed before approval of the towers. One official asked Contrerra, the company contracted to erect to towers, if the contract included a "hold harmless" clause releasing the schools from liability should a pole fall and cause damage or death.

There was a clause covering indemnities "arising out of, or related to Conterra's willful, negligent, tortious or criminal acts or omissions."

Chris Butler, project manager for Conterra, introduced Tim Hardy, an Alabama engineer who is designing the towers and their foundations. Of thousands of towers he has installed, Hardy said he has never seen one fail.