BYU and cell phone dead spots


Stuff happens. A student needs to use their cell phone, only to find they are in a dead spot. This is a particularly frequent experience in some dense buildings on BYU campus which inhibit cell phone signals.

The following is not an all-inclusive list of dead spots, which vary depending on cell phone carrier, but it may help people know where to expect poor service on campus.

Cell phones work off of airwaves. There are different frequencies cell phone companies could use to transmit data, phone calls and texts. Generally speaking, the lower the frequency, the better the airwaves penetrates buildings.

Cell phone reception also depends on many other factors, including the proximity of the cell site’s location to the location of the phone user.

Some companies, like Verizon and AT&T, own more lower-frequency airwaves than others, allowing better signal.

Matthew Critchley, a sophomore from Sedro-Woolley, Wash., studying pre-management, has experience with both companies.

“I switched (from AT&T to Verizon) because I got married and got a family plan with my wife,” Critchley said. “In general, I have had better service on campus with Verizon than with AT&T.”

Critchley reports seeing better service with Verizon on the library’s second floor. But all companies have campus dead spots.

For Verizon, some dead spots include the JFSB basement, the lower levels of the library, the first two floors of the Widtsoe Building and the second floor of the MARB.

“I think dead spots are good because they force us to talk to people and/or study without distractions since we can’t be slave to our phones like every other spot on campus,” said Nathan Kunkel, a senior from Carrollton, Ga., and a Verizon customer.

AT&T dead spots include the Talmage Building near the math labs, the Cougareat near the BYU Bookstore entrance, and basements and lower levels of buildings like the library and the JFSB.

“It’s generally a mild inconvenience. I usually just leave and go somewhere with service if I need to call someone,” said Sam Dittmer, a senior from Zionsville, Ind., and an AT&T customer.

T-Mobile dead spots also include basements and thickly-insulated areas. However, T-Mobile does offer a feature on some phones called Wi-Fi calling. This allows users to send and receive calls and SMS messages over Wi-Fi.

Warren Chatwin, a senior and Sprint user studying genetics and biotechnology, has many underground classes in the Widtsoe Building, Benson Building and MARB, spots where it is difficult to pull in a Sprint signal.

How do I feel in those dead spots? Annoyed,” Chatwin said. “When I pick up my phone, I usually want to use it for something. So I guess you could say it inhibits my productivity.”

Chatwin’s wife, Ivy, has experience as a river guide and working outdoors. She is grateful for cell phone service and other means of communication that can make a world of difference when things do not go as planned. However, she also believes it is useful to disconnect from the outside world to connect more with those around her.

I like having service in case someone really needs to get in touch with me, especially in our fast-paced and group-oriented society,” Ivy Chatwin said. “But let’s be honest. Most of the time, that buzz you hear in the middle of class can wait just a few more minutes.”

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