Improvements to Cellular Coverage

 

NACS is working with Sprint Nextel to improve Sprint PCS coverage on the main campus.  Sprint Nextel is adding Sprint PCS equipment to the existing Nextel site located at Engineering Tower.  This should improve in-building coverage for Sprint where it has been poor.

NACS and other campus departments are also working with AT&T (formerly Cingular) to construct a new cell site that will be located on the rooftop of the Science Library.   This site will bring coverage to the western portion of the campus in an effort to restore coverage to UCI’s AT&T users.  Cingular sold their interest in the joint venture network to T-Mobile when Cingular bought AT&T Wireless assets a few years ago.  Since then, their two sites on campus have only carried T-Mobile traffic, which had a negative impact on AT&T/Cingular coverage at UCI.

In addition to these two projects, NACS is developing a “master plan” for future cell site installations to bring new carriers on board, and add better coverage to existing carriers that have sites on the campus.  One idea that we are evaluating is a distributed antenna system or DAS.  This system, installed by a third party, leverages advances in technology to deploy small “microcell” nodes that are fed by fiber optic cable back to a central distribution point on our campus.  The DAS system has a very small profile compared to the sites that exist on campus today.  This solution can work better in our environment, improving in-building coverage and adding carriers without the challenge of finding a rooftop or other space for several hundred square feet of equipment and large antenna arrays.  In some cases, the antennas can be completely hidden, with attendant aesthetic benefits.

In this information age, NACS understands the desire of many to be mobile, whether it’s simply a cell phone, PDA, or data card for their laptop.  We will continue to work with cellular carriers to implement better coverage on campus.

Improved Cellular Service

In 2001, the campus formed a committee to review the issue of cellular telephone sites on the UCI campus. These sites are required to support cell phone services — a given vendor must have a local installation to provide their users service. UCI had only a single Cingular site on campus at the time, and users of other vendors such as Verizon and Nextel experienced limited service availability.

The committee recognized the need for additional sites, and recommended that they be allowed within certain aesthetic and campus impact constraints. The Administration approved the recommendations in the summer of 2001 and NACS was assigned the role of cell site coordination.

A second Cingular site has been installed and was operational as of August 1, 2002. A cell site for Verizon is under construction, and a site for Nextel is currently in the final steps of the approval process. Both of these sites should be operational within the next six months. Having cell sites for multiple vendors on campus will be beneficial for every day use as well as for emergency use.

For information on cell site safety, please visit www.nacs.uci.edu/communication/celsitesafety.html

Pacific Bell Wireless cell site installed at UCI

Pacific Bell Wireless, in cooperation with NACS’ Electronic Communications Services group, Campus Asset Management, and Facilities Management, has installed a digital cellular telephone cell site on the roof of Engineering Tower at UCI. The installation was completed during December. The new site affects users of Personal Communication Services (PCS) digital telephone service provided by Pacific Bell Wireless. With the new cell site, Pacific Bell PCS service is significantly improved on campus and in the surrounding service area. If you would like to sign up for Pacific Bell Wireless, you may contact Shelly Toole of NACS-ECS at x4311. We are also in touch with other cellular service vendors about possible additional cell sites on campus.