The University of Colorado is hoping a new distributed antenna system (DAS) will improve cell phone service for students living in Williams Village north this year.
Since discovering that improved insulation and windows in LEED certified buildings impacts students' cell service, CU's Office of Information and Technology has been searching for ways to improve service in the eco-friendly buildings.
Greg Stauffer, spokesman for the Office of Information Technology, said they are in the process of installing the new system, which is expected to improve service for Verizon and T-Mobile customers in Will Vill North, one of CU-Boulder's newest LEED Certified dorms.
"Verizon and T-Mobile service will hopefully be boosted in that space," Stauffer said. "We're working with Sprint and AT&T but we're not sure about a timeline on those. Hopefully this school year."
Eventually, if the system is successful, Stauffer said it's possible CU would consider implementing DAS throughout other campus buildings, starting with other residence halls.
Stauffer said the dorms will take priority since thousands of CU students call the residence halls home.
Before the start of school last year, CU added land lines to the rooms in Will Vill North to give students a more reliable line of communication. CU stopped adding land lines to new and remolded dorms because most students have cell phones, Stauffer said.
The DAS system is not a cure-all for spotty service, Stauffer said, since mountains, trees and old, historic buildings with thick concrete walls can also cause patchy service or dead zones. He recommends moving closer to a window, going to a higher floor or stepping outside to get better service.
"Moving to a different location can make a difference," Stauffer said.
CU freshman Sebastian Lemm lives on the fourth floor of Will Vill North and said his Verizon phone does not get good service in his dorm room so he typically goes to the common room for better reception.
"Usually the service is fine outdoors, but in the buildings it's bad," Lemm said.
CU freshman Hannah Hess lives on the second floor of Will Vill North and said she does not have problems with her cell phone service in her dorm, proving Stauffer's theory that reception is unpredictable.
"I have really good service in my dorm," Hess said. "Actually, that's the best service I get anywhere on campus."
CU freshman Jennilee Mix lives on the sixth floor of Will Vill North and said her T-Mobile service is fine for texting but it's difficult to maintain service during a phone call.
"I usually just go outside and enjoy the nice weather when I have to make a long call," Mix said. "I don't know what I'll do when it gets cold, but it's fine for now."
All three freshmen said they were aware they had a land line in their dorms but have never used it and don't expect to, regardless of their cell service.
CU freshmen Miguel Gerob and Samantha Will also live in Will Vill North and said while they expect their AT&T service to be patchy, they are most concerned about the trouble they've had connecting to the building's wifi on their phones and computers.
"I'd really rather see an improvement in the wifi," Gerob said. "That's more important for me than having really good service for calls."
Stauffer said the university has already begun the process to improve wifi across campus, including the Williams Village complex. The upgrade requires several steps that are costly and time consuming, he said, but it's a priority.