Construction of the new cell tower on Donax Street concluded last month, but the city announced at the April 1 council meeting that it's not active yet.
Residents living on Sanibel's east end have been eagerly awaiting the tower's completion and some were disappointed when they saw no immediate change in their local reception.
City Manager Judith Zimomra said that the tower has been built, but that Verizon is still working on activating it.
The cell phone tower on Donax. CORKY BOYD.
"The contractor comes and puts it up, and a different crew comes in and activates the cell tower," said Zimomra.
Ed Gilhuly, spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, said engineers are currently working on the tower.
"That new cell tower is scheduled to be activated by the end of the month as Verizon engineers tune and make final tests," he said.
He also explained that the tower will feature Verizon's high-speed 4G LTE and 3G EVDO technology, as well as the new AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum, which enhances overall service for customers.
The AWS, for instance, expands the 4G LTE bandwidth allowing more islanders to access 4G at the same time.
Land for the Donax tower was leased to Verizon by the city and negotiations are currently underway for AT&T to be a secondary party to that lease, said Zimomra. Council gave her permission to authorize the deal once negotiations are finished.
She said that the city anticipates the tower's activation in the near future.
"They would like to do it as soon as they can get their workers scheduled. We are encouraging them to do it sooner rather than later," she said. "We have a lot of people very anxious to see it on."
Some residents have contacted Verizon's Customer Service to report poor service with the new tower, but Zimomra said that isn't necessary because the company is aware of the tower being inactive.
The tower -- which can be seen from Fort Myers -- is disguised as a flag pole in order to be more attractive for residents.
Besides improving reception on the island in the near future, Gilhuly said it's also equipped to raise and lower the American flag quietly and environmentally-sensitive lights won't disturb sea turtles or other wildlife.