Those of us who have had cellphone calls cut out at inopportune times, or who haven’t been able to get a decent signal at all in some parts of the North Shore (and really, isn’t that all of us?), are keeping a close eye on the roof of the Salem Harbor Garage these days.
That’s where Verizon Wireless is conducting an experiment that could signal a great leap forward for wireless communications.
Verizon and Wing Power Energy, a Burlington company with a research facility on Canal Street, have installed three small wind turbines on the garage roof. The turbines are hybrids — they also have solar panels to collect more energy.
(The experiment is a good deal for the city, too. In return for the space, Salem is getting free public Wi-Fi, an electric signboard at street level for community messages and security cameras on the garage roof.)
“Finding real estate is easy, but finding power is hard,” said Gagan Puranik, associate director of Verizon Wireless’ Innovation Center in Waltham, told reporter Tom Dalton earlier this week.
The hope is the turbines — a clean energy source not tethered to the electrical grid — will power the cell tower. If it works, the small turbines could allow the company to improve its cell coverage and close holes in its high-speed communications network.
Similar turbines could be sited in rural areas or other underserved locations that have poor or no wireless signals. Here’s hoping the experiment is a successful one.