Student Aims For Better Quad Cell Service

After living in Cabot for only a few weeks, Allegra J.S. Lichauco ’08 is taking on one perennial source of annoyance for Radcliffe Quadrangle residents.

Prompted by problems she and other Quad residents have had with Cingular Wireless service, Lichauco is pushing Cingular to improve its network in the Quad.

Lichauco said that Cingular’s customer service desk informed her that if she compiles a list of enough names and telephone numbers of unhappy Cingular-using Quad residents, the company may consider taking action, possibly through the construction of a new cell phone tower in the area, Lichauco wrote in an e-mail.

However, Cingular was unable to provide Lichauco with a specified number of names needed to initiate these changes

Lichauco has compiled a list of names by advertising on house e-mail lists, but said she thinks she will need more support to prompt Cingular to act.

“Right now, I’ve got about 120 names but could definitely use more,” she said.

Cell phone marketing efforts designed to make switching services more difficult have prevented many from simply signing new contracts with cell phone service providers who cover the Quad better.

Lichauco, for one, explained that she has just purchased a new phone and her family has recently moved to a “family plan”.

Switching services would be inconvenient, although she said she would consider changing if no improvements are made.

Though each Harvard undergraduate suite is provided with its own telephone, these phones are rarely used, in part because students are reluctant to pay the cost of out-of-area calls on top of a pricey cell phone bill. And for many, cell phones are simply more convenient.

Cingular customer service desk employee said in an interview yesterday that the recent storms may have contributed to tower problems and weak signals experienced by cell phone users.

But several Quad residents question this statement, saying that Verizon Wireless and Sprint in general provide stronger signals and clearer connections.

Cabot House Committee Co-Chair Nathan G. Bernhard ’07 noted that before the start of the school year, students engaged in an e-mail debate over Cabot’s open list regarding the best cell phone service in the Quad. As for the future of the Quad’s cell phone service, Lichauco said she hopes her initiative will alleviate Cingular cell phone problems.

“There’s definitely no guarantee that [Cingular] will improve service but I thought it was worth a try,” Lichauco said. “People have been complaining for a while, yet it seems no one has done anything organized about it.”

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