Students who have long experienced problems with cellphone reception on campus may now finally finding relief. Two new cellphone towers were installed on campus over the summer to improve reception for Verizon users all over the Point Loma area.
“It started several years ago with its pushing Verizon to provide better coverage for the campus as well as the neighboring community,” said the Director of Infrastructure Services, Curtis Crockett via email. “We demonstrated how poor the experience was and how many Verizon users were being adversely affected.”
Problems with cellphone reception can be particularly troublesome for students further down the such as those who live in Young Hall.
“Too make a phone call, I have to drive out to Cup of Yo,” said Sierra Lyon, sophomore graphic design major who lives in Young but has Verizon cellphone service.
“I can’t make a phone call anywhere on campus, I can only text if I’m on wi-fi.”
Facilities Maintenance Manager Ed Lewis says that project most likely began around December of 2012. Verizon Communications Inc. did its own research and surveys and found that
the Point Loma area was lacking.
“The reason that Verizon wanted to upgrade and install additional antennas was to improve coverage on our campus, but it also was to improve coverage on the coastal side of the hill here,” he adds.
“It involved Cox Communications providing fiber cable to [Verizon], a little bit of a power upgrade, and then because there is a requirement that if your cell site has the capability or is required to service emergency – in other words 911 type calls – that you have to have an emergency generator backup system. So Verizon provided all of this, and did the work on campus for the upgrade of their system.”
Lewis believes that the space on campus designated for the towers was most likely leased to Verizon. The two cellphone towers are located on the southwest and northwest areas of the athletic field and have been combined with light poles that were already in place.
“The involvement of Steve Riddle and Ethan Hamilton in Athletics, and Ed Lewis in Campus Facilities was critical to planning the installation and keeping the project on schedule,” Crockett said.
Lewis explained that his responsibility was making sure that the contractors and Verizon had access to any areas that they needed and that anything modified during construction was repaired properly.
“I believe Sprint has a couple on,” added Lewis, explaining that these were just two towers that he knew of outside of Wiley Hall but adding “there’s a couple that are inside the building structures at Smee.”
Over the summer, these cellphone towers were also upgraded.
According to Crockett, who is part of campus Information Technology Services (ITS), the project came about as the result of efforts from a number of PLNU departments, Verizon Communications Inc., and other third party contractors.
“Corey Fling [ITS Chief Information Officer] worked with Verizon to put together a plan and met with needed PLNU departments to review the proposal and to address any issues or concerns,” Crockett said, “The project started to come together, plans and permits were approved, and contractors were allowed to bid on the project.”
“Verizon came out and completed a site survey, analysis and provided recommendations,” he explains , “Verizon was interested in improving its quality of services as well as expanding its LTE [Long Term Evolution] services to remain competitive [with] other vendors.”
“The project is in the final stages of testing and we are anticipating that Verizon will have them online by end of this month,” he adds.
Lewis explained that during the initial stages of the project, Verizon would survey the campus for weak spots and determine the best areas for potential cellphone towers.The project was initiated by Verizon and PLNU’s ITS and according to Lewis was paid for by Verizon. For the installation of the towers to occur, plans and permits had to be approved by the city, and contractors had to bid on the project. A major step was scheduling the construction and installing the building that now houses all of the equipment for the cell towers next to the west end of the athletic field says Crockett.
According to ITS, construction of the building took place over the summer so that it would not affect the baseball season or any camps using the athletic field.