East Campus residents, has your cell phone been on the fritz since you moved back in? You’re not alone.
MIT Information Services and Technology (IS&T) has confirmed that a hardware failure occurred with the cell phone antenna systems — distributed antenna system (DAS) — which were installed in EC at the end of the spring. According to Robyn Fizz, the IS&T News Coordinator, IS&T was not aware of this issue before The Tech inquired about it, but residents have noticed since they started returning last week.
In October, IS&T partnered with AT&T to install cell phone antenna systems in several locations, intending to boost indoor cell signal strength. The Tech previously covered the deployment of these antennas in May (tech.mit.edu/V132/N26/cellphones.html).
When students returned to EC after summer housing ended (EC was not open for the summer this year), many with AT&T phones complained over the mailing list ec-discuss about having trouble making calls and receiving text messages in the building. Their phones reported full five bars of service, but they were unable to place calls or send/receive text messages. Residents on several halls, unhappy that the antennas were malfunctioning, disconnected power from the antennas themselves in order to restore service. The antennas had been in use since the end of term last year and had not previously caused problems for residents.
Fizz said that IS&T is looking into this problem, and they will be notified by AT&T when the work is complete. AT&T has not yet deemed the cell phone antenna system in EC to be officially “on-air.”
“The DAS is monitored periodically by AT&T’s installers while it is being optimized. The system has been turned on and is available for use, but AT&T is still tuning the system for optimal performance,” Fizz said. “Once the system has been optimized to AT&T’s standards, it will be declared officially on-air and will be turned over to their network operations center for monitoring. We are still waiting on a status update from AT&T.”