Campus community members may become more closely connected due to a new University effort to improve cell phone service.
Over the next two years, University Information and Technology Services will work with cell phone providers like Verizon to improve cell phone reception in University buildings, Michigan Stadium and the University Hospital. After a successful trial in five buildings on North Campus, permanent installation of cellular technology started this month and is expected to be completed in 2013.
Andrew Palms, executive director of Communications Systems and Data Centers at the University, said the change is due to complaints about poor cell phone coverage on campus.
“A couple of years ago, it became clear we had a number of places that did not have good coverage …” Palms said. “We decided it was time to do something about it.”
The project aims to provide service in more buildings and increase the number of mobile devices the service area can handle, according to Palms.
“In (Michigan) Stadium on a Monday, there’s great coverage,” Palms said. “The problem is capacity. If you have 10 people in the stadium it’s fine, but 100,000 is a problem.”
According to Paul Killey, executive director of information technology at the College of Engineering, the college is highly interested in the project and volunteered to be part of the trial.
“The College of Engineering, we have been getting a lot of feedback from students, faculty and staff that cell phones are becoming more important for convenience and safety,” Killey said.
Improved cell phone reception might bring students a new range of distractions in the form of texting and smartphone use, but Killey said those issues will be decided on a class-by-class basis.
“It is up to the instructor to decide if it is a problem,” he said. “… It can be a challenge or an opportunity — however you want to look at it.”
LSA freshman Stasha Yancho said some of her classes use cell phones in place of iClickers, which can be a problem if there is poor cell phone reception.
“One lecture uses cell phones instead of iClickers, so it’s annoying when you get points off just because you don’t have service,” Yancho said.
Engineering sophomore Joe Riley said he thinks class will be more enjoyable after the project is implemented since it aims to improve cell phone service in academic buildings.
“Being able to communicate with others, I don’t feel isolated anymore,” Riley said.
LSA freshman Sammie Levin said cell phone service is an issue in residence halls and University buildings like the Modern Languages Building.
“I lose calls all the time from my room and the (MLB) gets no service,” Levin said. “(It’s) not a huge problem, but it could be improved.”