When it comes to telephone service, Cuttyhunk may be going cutting edge.
As part of a plan to upgrade service on the island, part of the town of Gosnold, Verizon has proposed putting up a 45-foot pole on town property on Tower Hill Road.
The Gosnold zoning board of appeals is scheduled to meet at noon Thursday at the town hall on Cuttyhunk on the request. The pole would exceed town height rules under zoning.
The proposed pole would become part of a Wi-Max system - a version of wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi - to provide improved service on the island, Verizon spokeswoman Carol Baribeau said. The pole would send and receive telephone transmissions for the system from a site in New Bedford.
There have been increasing problems with the island's 12-year-old system.
Ms. Baribeau said the narrow band radio system, which will use small antennas at customer homes, would become one of the first such systems that Verizon would install.
"We're going to bring Cuttyhunk into the 21st century," she said. The new system will cost $500,000.
The proposed system represents a somewhat dizzying advance in telephone technology on Cuttyhunk, an island which two decades ago had only a handful of telephones. Should the zoning board approve the request, Verizon hopes to have the new system in operation by the end of the year.
Verizon is the licensed provider of telephone service to Cuttyhunk. Naushon, another island in the town of Gosnold, has its own telephone system.
Gosnold town clerk Lisa Wright said Cuttyhunk's current system provides poor service, especially when the weather is bad, and has been getting worse in recent years.
"It's this new system or nothing," Ms. Wright said. She said the new system also would extend telephone coverage to nearly all of the island.
Ms. Baribeau said the Cuttyhunk system poses a maintenance issue to the company. The existing system is both unreliable and obsolete.
"It's been difficult to replace parts over the current year," she said. The company explored buying another system elsewhere to generate spare parts, but now has decided to pursue the new narrow band system.
In addition to improved reception, Ms. Baribeau said, the new system will open additional services to the phone and fax service already available, such as call waiting.
The new system also will provide additional capacity. The current Cuttyhunk system can handle 90 lines. Conceivably, Ms. Baribeau said, someone might pick up the phone and not be able to get a dial tone.
The new system will offer 120 lines to start. But Verizon also is bracing itself for population growth on Cuttyhunk. The system, Ms. Baribeau said, has the capacity to handle 6,000 lines.