U.S. Cellular adds new cell site to west side of campus

BY ERIC CLARK | AUGUST 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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Kinnick Stadium is just one location where University of Iowa students with U.S. Cellular service will notice greater coverage this fall.

In an effort to satisfy customers and increase the speed and ease of cell-phone use in the Iowa City area, U.S. Cellular has installed a new $450,000 cell site on top of Slater Residence Hall. The cell site construction began on May 16, and was completed on July 29. It went online on Aug. 9.

The cell site is not the first to be installed on the UI campus. A site sits on top of Mayflower Residence Hall, and more cell sites may pop up on campus in the future.

“We discussed a handful of possible locations in the past,” said Jeffrey Aaberg, the director of facilities and operations for UI Housing and Dining. “We’re considering installing a tower on top of Burge in the future, due to a couple dead spots in the area.”

U.S. Cellular Central Region Project Manager Shaun Hemsted said the large number of students living on the West  Campus played a major role in the decision to install the site on Slater.

“Capacity is a significant factor when we decide where to put new cell sites,” Hemsted said. “We expect our customers’ data use will continue to grow, which creates the need for a new site on campus.”

Aaberg said the process of planning the project was “multi-tiered” and a large review team collectively decided on the location of the cell site.

The new cell site and installation cost approximately $450,000; it will increase the quality of 4G LTE coverage in Iowa City. The addition of the cell site brings the total number of U.S. Cellular sites in Iowa to more than 790.

“At U.S. Cellular, we know your phone simplifies and enhances your life, so we provide cutting-edge devices and a high-speed nationwide network,” said Don Cochran, U.S. Cellular’s director of sales in Iowa, in a press release.

U.S. Cellular representatives have not fielded many complaints regarding service around Slater, but Hemsted said customer feedback plays a large role in making decisions.

While the cell site will provide greater coverage to students living on the West Campus, at least one student has never ran into any problems.

“I lived there last year, and I never had any problems with service, even in the basement,” said UI sophomore Bailey Gilbertson, a U.S. Cellular customer.

The new cell site will also bring relief to the network problems that typically arise in and around Kinnick Stadium during Hawkeye football games.

Brad O’Meara, a manager of the UI ITS physical infrastructure team, acknowledged that students do occasionally complain about service.

“We do receive some complaints,” he said. “This varies because each carrier’s services, and each device can vary building to building.”

U.S. Cellular is not the only provider who is working to expand and increase the quality of its coverage in Iowa. Verizon Wireless has provided Iowa City users with 4G LTE coverage since 2011.

Karen Smith, a Verizon representative, said its 4G LTE network recently expanded coverage from I-380 to Cedar Rapids, and Lake Macbride.

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