Sturdy winds disable the tree-mounted broadband antenna, inflicting Storm Web and associates to repair moveable towers

ALMONTE – In nearly 25 years of operation, Storm Internet Services has deeply rooted experience delivering wireless broadband through tree-mounted broadcast antennas. But this seemingly green tech is one the company is now avoiding on its rural Ontario Easter network, where traditional towers are the norm.

Confirmation of this approach came last week when a remaining storm knot in a tree fell victim to high winds. A branch broke and tore a cable from the antenna, disrupting service to a small number of customers who rely on this node. To complicate matters, the affected tree was also dead and would no longer be able to be climbed safely – even by the increasingly difficult-to-find professionals who specialize in tree climbing.

Reconnecting the old antenna was a breeze, and a new node had to be set up quickly to restore the internet to Storm’s affected customers.

The dead tree that served as a broadband transmission point for several years. Courtesy photo.

The branch that came down in the wind, brought the cord down with it, and severed the knot. Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo

“Our friends from NorthWind Wireless lent us a temporary tower,” reports storm owner Birket Foster, sharing photos of the portable structure that arrived with the trailer. “We worked with Dave McKeen, the owner of Northwind, and Andrew, who brought the tower over and erected it with a crew of five Storm people.

“The problem is solved and the customers are back online,” added Foster on Thursday this week, summarizing the performance of “real people helping real people do real work”.

The NorthWind Wireless crew arrives with a temporary tower to replace the fallen tree knot. Courtesy photo.

According to Foster, Storm’s safety policy at this point only allows equipment to be installed in trees no higher than the maximum height of the ladders. While the company still has a few antennas installed at various locations higher up in the tree canopy, it now estimates these locations to be fewer than 20.

He points out that tree-mounted broadband antennas are subject to fluctuations in performance because trees fluctuate and generally have more movement than a fixed tower. He observes that trees also grow that every few years someone has to climb on the antenna and readjust it to keep the characteristics pointed.

Photos for this article were taken by Arndt Hempell, Jason Forester and Louie Lalonde.

The new temporary tower seen from the ground after its construction. Courtesy photo.

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