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Distributed Antenna System Gives Verizon Wireless Users a Boost

Published March 4, 2013

By Diana Tuorto, dianatuo@buffalo.edu

DAS antenna in Ellicott Complex

Enjoying better Verizon Wireless cell service on North Campus? A Distributed Antenna System (DAS) was recently installed by Verizon Wireless at UB, increasing service by 2 to 5 bars in many locations.

“We’ve already seen a significant decrease in the number of complaints about these locations (with DAS coverage).”
Tony Casciano, Network Engineer
Network & Classroom Services

This multi-phase project has been a long time coming. Initial discussions about the DAS began in 2004, but it didn’t seem a necessity until the iPhone’s launch in 2007. “Suddenly, demand for bandwidth increased, and Verizon Wireless saw an opportunity to increase service coverage on the UB North Campus,” said Tony Casciano, UB Network Engineer. Tony continues to work closely with Julia Macmurray, Project Manager, and Matt Marino, Telecommunications Engineer, on the DAS implementation.

With UB the size of a small city, it was a challenge determining where to begin. Signal testing by Verizon Wireless and feedback from student IT surveys pointed to Ellicott Complex and Governors Hall having very weak connectivity, so they were early targets. “We launched the first phase of the DAS system in September 2012,” Tony said. “Just a month later, the Student IT Experience Survey was conducted and we’ve already seen a significant decrease in the number of complaints about these locations.”

Distributed Antenna System shelter built by Verizon Wireless on North Campus.

Knox Hall and the Student Union, two areas described as lacking signal strength in the IT survey, are next for the DAS focus. “We hope to complete installation by this summer,” Tony added. Additional phases are still being planned based on further signal testing by Verizon Wireless and UBIT survey results.

Verizon Wireless designed, installed, and funded the cost of the DAS system, which is neutral and open to other providers on a lease basis. So far, only AT&T has expressed interest in adding their equipment to the DAS, but hasn’t moved forward yet. “Verizon Wireless sees the future in mobile technology, especially in higher education, and have decided to invest in UB to improve their customers’ experience,” Tony added.

Results from 2012 Student IT Experience Survey showing cell phone signal improvement.

Verizon Wireless customers who experience signal issues in Ellicott Complex or Governors Hall should continue to work with Verizon Wireless customer service directly. If the DAS experiences an outage, alerts will be available under the UBIT Services Dashboard.