After at least a year of taking classes at CU-Boulder, most students can list which buildings on campus they can’t get cell reception in.
“[I have trouble getting reception] in the basements mostly, and usually lecture halls for some reason,” said Justin Saulnier, a 19-year-old sophomore business major.
CU hired Interface Communications, a Longmont-based contractor, to compare the cell phone coverage of five major carriers across the Boulder campus during spring 2010, said ITS Communications Manager Greg Stauffer.
“What we did is we wanted to understand what cell coverage was like on our campus and understand if there were some improvements that need to be made,” Stauffer said. “So, we hired an outside contractor to see if they could take readings on campus.”
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel and T-Mobile were all comparable in their level of coverage across campus, he said.
“You might see on one floor of a building very good signal, or just a floor away or the same floor a weak signal,” Stauffer said. “It was encouraging to see the average across campus; it bred a fairly good level. But again, there are some problem spots so I think that’s what we’re looking at addressing.”
Interface Communications found that buildings that received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as most basements on campus, had low cell reception, said Master Plan Communication Specialist Megan Rose.
“They’re attributing the LEED buildings to an increase in insulation in the UV paneling that they put on the windows,” Rose said.
The survey also noted that older buildings that aren’t LEED-certified, such as Norlin Library and the Engineering Center, also lack full cell reception.
“It’s a campus-wide problem and a nation-wide problem on most campuses, and not so much just a LEED problem,” Rose said.
Like Rose, Stauffer said the report noted that cell reception isn’t a problem solely in LEED-certified buildings.
“In fact, a lot of them have good coverage,” he said. “There are a couple that could use improvement but it’s not like because it’s a LEED building it doesn’t get any good coverage.”
Other LEED-certified buildings on campus include ATLAS, Wolf Law and the Koelbel Business building, as well as the University Memorial Center, Visual Arts Complex and Arnett Hall, according to the CU 2010-2011 Course Catalogue and CU’s official fact website.
Rachel Holloman, a 20-year-old junior Russian major, said she has trouble getting cell reception near the new Alferd Packer Grill area in the UMC, in the basement of the Eaton Humanities building and on the top floor of the Hellems Arts and Sciences building.
Holloman, a Verizon customer, said that while she can move to other parts of Hellems in order to get better signal, “[Eaton] Humanities is basically is a black hole.”
Saulnier said he has had trouble finding reception in the Humanities building.
“Humanities 1B50—that place sucks,” he said.
Saulnier, an AT&T customer, also said he had cell-reception problems in the E050 lecture hall in Muenzinger Psychology, the bottom floor of Norlin Library and parts of the Koelbel Building.
“It happens in basements mostly, and usually lecture halls for some reason,” he said. “I don’t know if it has anything to do with all of the people or what.”
Megan Cousins, an 18-year-old freshman engineering major, said she has trouble getting cell reception in parts of Crosman Hall, the basement of the Engineering Center and the main lecture hall in Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Other students said that for the most part, they don’t have problems getting adequate cell reception on campus.
“I mean, my [cell phone] bars decline but it’s not a significant enough problem that I can’t text or call, except in the Center for Community in which calling becomes an issue,” said Luis Asprino, a 19-year-old junior political science major and Verizon customer. “I’ve only been in the dining hall in the C4C, but when I do call people from there, it’s a little spotty and sometimes it drops calls because of lack of cell reception.”
While the new C4C building wasn’t included in the survey, Rose said that CU is already working to improve cell reception across campus.
“The reason they did this survey was to see how they could improve overall coverage on campus so they will work to implement some of that infrastructure to make sure students get coverage,” Rose said. “Now that we’re aware of it we can work toward designing toward that problem.”
Conatct CU Independent Contributor Mindy Rappoport at Mindy.firstname.lastname@example.org.