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Boosting Cell Service, One Carrier at a Time

By Marissa Malone

Published November 14, 2014

Hazy cell phone service is rapidly becoming a thing of the past at UB, at least for Verizon Wireless customers.

Marissa Malone (UB Student, Class of 2015) has a dream of traveling to all seven continents, and she’s already visited four. When not globetrotting, Marissa studies Communication, Spanish, and Management at UB while working for both UBIT and Career Services.

The Verizon Wireless Distributed Antenna System (DAS) is officially live in several buildings across UB North Campus, as well as a few locations on Downtown Campus. The DAS project team, led by Jim Giardina, Unified Communications Specialist for Network and Classroom Services (NCS), includes members of the VPCIO’s area and UB Information Technology, UB Facilities, UB Environment, Health, and Safety and many other UB department contacts, have all played a huge role in the DAS projects’ success.

Today, the DAS boosts cell service to parts of the campus for all Verizon Wireless customers and could greatly help improve cell service for other cell carriers at UB in the future. “The buildings covered by the DAS now enjoy full 4G service and super-fast Internet throughout, so far fewer dropped calls or delayed text messages,” Jim stated.

 

Jim Giardina (Network and Classroom Services, UBIT) looks at the hardware behind the Distributed Antenna System in Alumni Arena. (Photo by Marissa Malone)

The Verizon Wireless’ Distributed Antenna System (DAS) first appeared on UB’s North Campus in 2012 to address the snowballing demand for bandwidth. For the past two years, Jim, Verizon Wireless, and other UB staff members have overcome great obstacles to deliver better cell phone service throughout the campus.

During the summer of 2014, the team was busy getting the DAS system installed in Baldy Hall, Alumni Arena, and Clemens Hall. The DAS was previously available only in Ellicott Complex, Governors, Student Union and Knox Hall.

Jim added, “The university community can expect the DAS be added to at least two to three buildings each year for the next several years. These distributed antenna systems are already part of new building infrastructures like the CTRC and the new medical school building that we just broke ground on downtown.

“Every building system had its own set of unique challenges and constraints that were successfully overcome through our solid teamwork,” Jim said. The solid teamwork and efforts put forth can be seen by all Verizon Wireless customers through the dramatic increase in cell service on campus, which averages two to five bars.

What if I don’t have Verizon?

Hardware behind the DAS in Alumni Arena. (Photo by Marissa Malone)

Verizon Wireless is building a vendor neutral system at UB to allow other cell service carriers to raise the bars for their customers on campus. Jim recommends non-Verizon customers to “call your cell carrier, provide customer feedback about your cell service problems, and ask them to jump on the Verizon Wireless DAS system at UB.”

If your carrier fails to meet your cell service needs, Jim suggests “choosing a new carrier that can deliver when and where you need your cell service to work for you.”

The UB community is fortunate to have a partnership with Verizon Wireless, America’s largest 4G LTE network at UB. “Our goal is to have every cell phone customer experience the best network and coverage around UB,” says Giardina.

In 2015, the DAS will be expanded to cover more buildings along the spine, including Capen Hall, Norton Hall, Talbert Hall, and the Natural Sciences Complex.