University of Oregon

Improving cell phone coverage on campus — April 2013


On a college campus, cell phones are almost as common as students themselves. Unfortunately, university buildings, by way of their construction—large structures of concrete, steel, brick and high efficiency windows—make it difficult for cellular signals to penetrate deep inside UO buildings from external cell sites.

For employees and patrons of UO's Knight Library, this problem was solved in March with the launch of the Distributed Antenna System, or the DAS. Coverage at Matthew Knight Arena also went live recently, providing improved reception for fans in the stands and emergency responders working in the arena, particularly in the areas underneath the arena.

The DAS project, launched three years ago, is a joint effort between Information Services and cellular vendors Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. In this first phase, the Knight Library and Matthew Knight Arena see improved coverage. As the project progresses over the next several years, the goal is to achieve coverage of 90 percent of public indoor spaces (common areas, hallways, classrooms, labs, etc.) and 95 percent of outdoor spaces.

The project is unique because the two cellular companies provided all of the equipment and much of the work. Information Services backed the project with a considerable amount of staff time spent working with Verizon and AT&T to engineer and build the DAS. Other cellular vendors have the option to join the project.

UO Police, UO event operations staff, Eugene Police and Eugene Fire will also benefit from DAS. A separate, parallel system will be built for emergency responders, substantially improving dispatchers' ability to communicate with first responders on campus and in buildings.