The enigma of no cell phone reception has plagued Las Positas College.
When students were anonymously asked around campus about their cell phone carriers and their cell phone reception, they all agreed that the signal on campus is terrible.
The majority of the students had either AT&T or Verizon carriers, while the minority had other less in demand carriers such as Sprint, Virgin and T-Mobile. Students with AT&T and Verizon were more likely to have signal than those with other carriers.
Campus safety supervisor, Sean Prather, also has Verizon Wireless.
He would describe the reception on campus as, “Spotty. Sometimes its full bars, and it’s great. Sometimes it’s not. It’s all over the place.”
Even with the location of six cell towers and a few dozen FCC registered antennae — which are mostly of AT&T and Verizon registrants — in the city of Livermore, frequencies cannot penetrate the barrier that prevents those networks from giving our mobile devices the proper functions that they need.
When asked to give specific areas of dead zones, the most common responses that students gave were the 1600 Building, the 2400 Building and the 1850 Building. As the trend in answers show, these are all of Las Positas’ newest additions to the campus.
Prather was not surprised when he learned of these dead zones.
“These buildings you see have a heavy amount of steel which, like that, can impede a cell phone reception,” he said.
Slabs of concrete are also among the heavy materials used to construct these architectural gems. Basically, Las Positas has a real-life force field. But instead of protecting us, it is more of a hindrance.
“I don’t know,” Prather said, when asked what he thought of the cell phone reception’s cause. “(It could be) part geography, where the school is located.”
Las Positas College is located on Campus Hill, so the theory is definitely plausible. Hills and isolated areas are notorious for having not-so-favorable reception.
“It could be a lot of people in a small area,” is another theory of Prather, who has experienced this when working seasonally at Sonoma Raceway. “I’ve had it when the cell phone won’t even work at all.”
Staff and students at Las Positas could add up to a couple thousand people at any given time of the day. That is a lot for one populated area sharing the same transmitted frequencies. Imagine the whole cafeteria sending one text message at the same time. It can be frustrating when the nearest cell phone tower has to ration out its transmissions to the students and other neighboring mobile users, or boot them to another tower altogether.
The nearest cell tower on Airway Boulevard to Las Positas only has a classification of a good signal on a scale from moderate to best.
Greg Briggs, retail sales consultant for AT&T, was asked about the possibility of new cell phone towers in closer proximity to Las Positas and its surrounding neighborhoods.
“What the problem is: we try to put up towers but the city doesn’t let us,” Briggs said.
Not only does the city not allow it, but also many times, the community doesn’t want cell towers in neighborhoods. Just typing the phrase “cell tower” in the search bar at Change.org reveals many pages of petitions to stop the installation of cell phone towers in many communities.
At the moment, this situation is at an impasse.
“The only other thing you can do, because you might be in a dead zone, is to change your sim (card),” is Briggs’ advice to those who come across this dilemma in any situation.