Construction will begin Monday to improve cell capacity at the stadium and upgrades are also being discussed for the Dean Smith Center.
The Distributed Antenna System project (DAS) aims to improve cell coverage across UNC’s campus. Now, more antennae are being added to Kenan Stadium to improve cellular capacity and accommodate 60,000 fans.
“Most people don’t understand, there’s a big difference between coverage and capacity,” said Rick Harden, director of engineering and operations for ITS communication technologies.
“Cellular coverage refers to the signal footprint, meaning how big or how small is the coverage area where a mobile device can actually pick-up a signal,” he said. “Cellular capacity refers to how many users can access the system at the same time.”
UNC is enhancing the DAS system to increase the capacity in time for football season.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are paying for the improvements.
Junior Ever Castro uses a Verizon phone and said he has experienced trouble with his cell phone service at football and basketball games.
“Cell phone service just goes away — it ends up draining my battery,” he said.
Castro said he turns off smartphone applications at games to conserve battery power and waits to send pictures to his family until after the game.
Harden said planners are concentrating on Kenan Stadium at the moment.
“For the Kenan Stadium DAS enhancement, a significant amount of new infrastructure is being added including over 100 antennas within the stadium bowl and interior areas, in addition to the associated electronics and fiber optic cabling,” Harden said.
Clint Gwaltney, associate athletic director , said the focus won’t be turned to the Dean Smith Center until the Kenan Stadium upgrades are complete.
The DAS project consists of three phases. The first phase was finished in March 2012 and placed thirteen antennas across campus. The University is now working on the second phase and has completed surveys identifying cellular coverage from each building.
Sophomore Dan Horschler said his cell phone coverage is spotty in the student section and that he is looking forward to the upgrades.
“I think it’ll definitely be beneficial,” he said. “It’s always a problem at games.”