All those texts, photos and calls zipping into and out of Memorial Stadium on football game days are putting a strain on wireless phone signals.
At least two phone companies have installed mobile cellular signal boosters nearby to help ease the congestion.
AT&T set up a so-called “cell on wheels” device in the south end zone last year to help with network congestion. Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director, said that came after athletics department staff had trouble making calls on their AT&T phones during games.
“That has alleviated our issue as far as we know,” Marchiony said. “I know our staff isn’t complaining.”
On Twitter, several followers expressed complaints with cell phone service at the stadium, saying it was difficult to send texts, make calls and connect to wireless data networks. The complaints included AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile customers.
Brenda Hill, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, said the company installed a similar device to AT&T’s at a nearby apartment complex in September. It’s a fully functioning cell site that’s portable, Hill said. The company installed it after monitoring its network and noticing the problem during game days.
The network strain isn’t typically an issue with a lot of calls going on at once, but rather with all the data being exchanged in the stadium, which has a capacity of 50,071.
“The trend is that people are texting and taking a whole lot more photos and posting and tweeting than a few years ago,” Hill said. “I think a lot of us are doing that.”
Hill said that with the added boost, customers should have noticed better service.
Attempts to reach representatives at T-Mobile and Sprint were unsuccessful.
Marchiony said the data strain doesn’t seem to be as noticeable in Allen Fieldhouse for KU basketball games, where the seating capacity is 16,300.
“You can’t hear anything in there anyway when you try to make a phone call,” Marchiony said. “You have to put your phone on vibrate if you even want to hear it ring.”