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Quadlings Can’t Get Cell Reception

By Victoria Kim, Contributing Writer

For Lisa K. Goodrich ’07, moving into the Quad this fall brought an unexpected complication. As she struggled to assemble her futon, she was forced to walk two blocks away from her Currier room in order to talk to IKEA representatives on her cell phone.

“They would ask me, ‘So which hole is it that you’re having trouble with?’ and I’d have to explain to them that I was actually nowhere near my futon,” said Goodrich, a Cingular Wireless customer.

Goodrich said while her phone usually rings in the Quad, she has to quickly explain that reception is poor before the call is lost, or text message callers her room number to make sure she receives calls.

And Goodrich isn’t the only Quad resident who has had to bend over backwards to keep in touch with the rest of the world while up on Garden Street.

“Everyone seems to have a story about it,” Goodrich said.

Chris T. Brown ’05, another Currier resident, said he used to go outside to receive his calls.

“I would be the poor idiot standing outside in the snow talking to my girlfriend for 45 minutes,” said Brown of his days on a T-Mobile cell phone plan.

Brown said he changed his service from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless a month and a half ago when his contract expired. With Verizon, he said, his reception is better—his cell phone registers two bars of signal strength from inside his Currier room, where he used to get none.

The quality of reception varies between different companies, and Verizon provides the best service, according to University Information Systems Director of Telecommunications Nancy Kinchla. The Crimson’s own tests confirm that Verizon cell phones receive the best signal in the Quad, compared to AT&T, Sprint PCS and T-Mobile.

Greg D. Cohen ’07, a Pforzheimer resident, said he switched to Verizon from AT&T in late October.

“It was really annoying, and I felt like I was back in middle school again without a cell phone,” he said.

Goodrich also said she would change her carrier if she were not locked into a contract.Although University officials and different carriers are looking to improve cell phone service in the Quad, they face a number of difficulties.

In particular, many of the Quad Houses’ are built with concrete, which impedes cell phone reception, and the city of Cambridge has been resistant to erecting new sites to transmit cell phone signals.

“In-building coverage is always a challenge because construction material impacts the signal’s ability to penetrate the building,” said Mark J. Elliott, a spokesman for Sprint PCS.

Elliott said Spring PCS wants to improve service on campus, and Alexa Kaufman, a spokeswoman for Cingular Wireless, also said her company is working to do the same.

“We’re in a transitional time when vendors are very interested [in building cell sites], but the city of Cambridge doesn’t want anything new put up there,” Kinchla said.

Currently, there are no cell sites—radio systems that communicate with cell phones and make wireless connection possible—on University property in the Quad area, according to Kinchla. But there are some sites off campus in the area.

Next month, Director of University and Commercial Real Estate Edward Reiss said he will be putting together a package of possible cell sites to improve reception across the University.

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