ShoreWaves disputes claims

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Keweenaw County Board members Del Rajala, Jim Vivian, Don Piche, Sandra Gayk, and Bob DeMarois, discuss details of the use of an equipment shed at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge tower at Wednesday’s special board meeting.

EAGLE RIVER — In a dispute between internet providers PastyNet and ShoreWaves over the shared use of an equipment shed at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge tower in Copper Harbor, Charlie Hopper, PastyNet president, told the Keweenaw County Board through his attorney Wednesday that thanks to his five-year contract with the county, he had believed his company would enjoy exclusive right to access of the shed

The shed was not mentioned in the contract and the county’s ownership of the shed was in question.

Hopper also claimed there is not enough room in the shed for a third party to install equipment. Currently PastyNet and Range Telecommunications both have operating equipment inside.

Steve Fitzgerald, president of ShoreWaves, disputes Hopper’s claims of proprietary rights as not realistic and unnecessary. Hopper has been denying Fitzgerald access or entry to the shed, while Fitzgerald said access to the shed is required in order for his company to complete the broadband link to Copper Harbor the county had given him permission to do.

“The reason we’ve needed to get in,” Fitzgerald told the board, “is I don’t know if there is enough space for us or not. I need to be able to come back and say: ‘Gee, there’s not enough space up there for us.”

The other point, Fitzgerald said, is he needs to mount another power meter on the shed for ShoreWaves, but he cannot drill a hole in the wall before he knows if there something behind the wall he might drill into.

“To be responsible, we have to have some clearing,” said Fitzgerald, “and if there’s any issue there, I can say: ‘Gee, this isn’t going to work.'”

While Fitzgerald questioned Hopper’s claims of there not being enough room in the shed for ShoreWaves’ equipment, neither he nor a board member can access the shed, because Hopper is the only one who has the key to the structure, Hopper claims he does not want anyone else to see his equipment configurations or arrangements.

Commissioner Del Rajala, who has been a radio engineer for more than 30 years, disputed Hopper’s assertion, saying both companies were using unlicensed equipment that, while it may be of different manufacturers, is basically the same, and there are not many different ways to operate it.

Fitzgerald concurred.

Fitzgerald said he is not particularly interested in PastyNet’s equipment or how he has it arranged, he needs to access the shed to mount an electric meter. He said he is in a hurry to get his own equipment installed and operating before the summer tourism season begins, and if Hopper has objections to his sharing the shed, he is satisfied to enclose his equipment in a box mounted on a post he would have to install or have UPPCO install. The board members were satisfied with that arrangement, and unanimously agreed to that.

“We would like to thank you,” said Commissioner Sandra Gayk in response Fitzgerald, “for your flexibility in this matter.”