T-Mobile does work on equipment in Milford water tower

T-Mobile has been working on its equipment on the water tower near the Mispillion River in Milford during the last week. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

MILFORD — A crane near the Mispillion River was towering over Marshall Street over the last week, as T-Mobile was doing construction on the water tower that’s part of the old spoon mill near the Milford Dog Park.

“When we bought that spoon mill property, the tower was leased by T-Mobile, and they are making repairs to their system,” said Joan Lofland, who owns the site with her husband, Sudler.

Roni Singleton, a public relations representative for T-Mobile, explained what the equipment does.

“T-Mobile operates a cell site on the water tank. The antennas and base station provide T-Mobile service to area residents and customers,” she said.

“We are in the process of completing work on network capacity and service upgrades to better serve the community,” she added. “We expect the work to be completed within a couple of weeks, as we finish the upgrades and do quality and performance checks on the new services.”

She said that once the project is completed, local T-Mobile “customers will enjoy enhanced services, faster data speeds and 5G service in the area.”

According to Dan Bond, a friend of the Loflands who also owns several properties in downtown Milford, the Loflands are very happy with the arrangement.

“He tells me they’re one of the best renters he’s ever had,” Mr. Bond said. “They’re no nuisance, and the checks come in every month.”

He said that tall structures like that can make people good money.

“Any time you have a high structure like that you can mount one of those microwave transmitters on, you can rent it out to these communication companies,” Mr. Bond said. “That’s why the city of Milford water towers are covered up with those things.”

He said the municipal water tower downtown, on Pearl Alley, “is just covered with them. I don’t think they can get any more up there.”

Mr. Bond said telecommunications companies rent space on these structures to avoid building their own towers.

“If you have a stable, tall structure of any kind you can mount these transmitters on, you can usually get them to rent space there,” he said. “All over the country that’s a very common practice.”

Mr. Bond said ventures like this are open to relatively small-scale individual investors.

“There’s a thriving business of even individual investors in places where cellphone coverage is poor,” he said. “If you can put together $150,000, you can build one of those towers and rent it out to the communications companies.”

He added that “there are also, of course, some big companies that have thousands of towers.”

But Mr. Bond said this would not be an entirely risk-free investment.

“The only risk you’re taking, I think, is technological change,” he said. “We’re always seeing technology move on, and I expect at some point we’ll see most of those things done on satellites rather than tall structures.”

Therefore, he said, it’s important for investors “to be careful about how much sunk cost you put into building that tower.”

But for the Loflands, who bought the spoon mill and some other nearby properties as they currently are, there was no additional cost associated with building a high structure.

“When you already have something like Sudler has there, it’s just a free cash cow,” Mr. Bond said.