Communications System Discussed at Town Council

The town of Londonderry may benefit from a proposed statewide communications system, but not in the near future.

Battalion Chief Mike McQuillen and Lt. Jeremy Mague, who are also heading up the effort to improve town-wide communications among Police, Fire and Public Works, discussed the state plan in the March 6 Town Council meeting.

McQuillen told the Council that the state system is similar to a digital system that is being introduced across the country, and would allow the sharing of data from emergency personnel’s cell phones.

McQuillen said the idea came after Sept. 11, 2001, when communication between emergency workers was spotty, and that the need for it was reinforced after the Boston Marathon bombing. The plan, he said, is to have one communications tower within every 200 square miles.

While the state has $7 billion earmarked for the project, the total project cost is estimated at between $40 to $120 billion, McQuillen said, adding, “They are hopeful that AT&T, Verizon or Sprint will be willing to subsidize it.”

The New Hampshire plan will be developed in draft form over this coming summer, McQuillen said.

Council Vice-Chair Tom Freda asked, “At the end of the day, will the thing they’re developing be able to communicate with this thing (the proposed town-wide communications plan)?”

McQuillen said it would.

The Council also discussed the town’s proposed communications upgrade, which is on the March 14 ballot at $2,824,730. Resident Debra Paul noted that Derry is also upgrading its communications system and it is costing the neighboring town an estimated $1.6 million. The Derry communications upgrade was recently added to its Capital Improvement Plan, according to an article in the Nutfield News, and Paul asked if Londonderry’s system will be compatible and if they could somehow share the cost.

McQuillen said while Derry is purchasing the same type of digital system, Derry is not building any new towers and Londonderry plans to build at least one.

Paul suggested that Fire Chief Darren O’Brien talk with Derry Fire Chief Michael Gagnon. Farrell directed Town Manager Kevin Smith to set up a chief-to-chief talk, to pinpoint any differences and any synergies between the systems.

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