AT&T Service Outages Irk Students

Campus cell phone users who are customers of AT&T were frustrated by service outages this week, although AT&T said yesterday that the problem has been resolved.

Starting Monday, phone calls across Harvard’s campus began abruptly cutting off only a few minutes into conversations, preventing many students from using their AT&T-serviced cell phones.

“I can’t use my phone in my room anymore. As I walk through the Yard, the signal just dies. It is just ridiculous. If I do get a signal, it just dies really quickly. So every phone call turns into six phone calls which I have to pay for,” said Edward W. Naim ’04 of Leverett House.

Though the problem had been occurring all over campus, Adams students have been the most vocal, flooding the House open e-mail list with angry complaints.

“My cell phone is not getting any reception in my house. There are probably about 20 to 30 other Adams people who are having the same problem,” said Jason W. Young ’05, who complained over his House’s e-mail list.


Ellen Webner, a spokesperson for AT&T, said the problem was minor and short-lived.

“It was an electronic failure at the site that rarely occurs, and therefore took a little longer than normal to repair,” Webner said. “We knew when the site went down immediately, and we have been working on it for the past 24 hours.”

Though Webner could not say how large an area was affected by the problem, she did say that it was not widespread.

“It was only one cell site in the general area of the University, so the impact is not that great on the community at large,” Webner said.

Students, however, were frustrated by the lack of explanation from AT&T customer service and the inconsistency in responses.

“I have been told it is my phone, but I know other people have been given different explanations. I think it is very interesting, and they need to work on their customer service,” Young said. “I know one person was told that at least 20 people had to call before they could send a repairman, and another student was told that a tower was being fixed.”

Abdel Reid ’06, who is also an Adams House resident, said he was treated especially badly by AT&T’s customer service.

“AT&T had me do test calls, and the test calls didn’t work. They said that if a lot of students were reporting the problem, then a technician would be sent out,” said Reid. “When I asked them what I should do in the meantime, they told me that I should walk five to ten miles and see if the problem persists.”

Webner declined to comment on the claims of erratic customer service.

Several students said the lack of a cell phone presented a variety of problems.