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Thursday November 21, 2013 Upgrades to stadium wireless system means better cellular service on game days

Updated: 4:29pm, November 21

StadiumGAINESVILLE, Fla. -- If you’ve been to a University of Florida home football game the last few years, you’ve likely experienced frustration with your cellular phone service. No one likes to be disconnected from the world for three hours.

But to borrow and paraphrase from the Florida Gators’ Official Wireless Partner Verizon’s recent marketing campaign, chances are, “They can hear you now.”

More than 300 new antennas were installed throughout Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last year by AT&T, and with Verizon having installed additional equipment to use those antennas this season, both Verizon and AT&T customers now enjoy vastly improved service in the heavily trafficked ballpark.

The union made its debut for the Nov. 9 homecoming game against Vanderbilt and fans overwhelmingly experienced boosted service.

“Astronomically boosted,” said Chip Howard, UF’s executive associate athletics director for internal affairs. “It’s important to provide a level of service that keeps our fans connected at the stadium when they’re here for games. This is just another step in dealing with that issue.”

The first step came in the summer of 2012 when AT&T installed its new Distributed Antenna System in the stadium. Last season, those new antennas serviced only AT&T customers. Together with Verizon, the two companies provide clear, crisp service to an estimated 80 percent of the fans in the stadium.

“Obviously, it’s a lot better than when we had one loan cell tower on top of the press box,” Howard said.

The stadium improvements are part of a bigger picture goal for the UF campus and part of a three-year investment to expand and broaden its IP broadband networks with more high-speed internet access and new mobile app and cloud-based services.

“We will continue to explore all options to increase connectivity for fans in our stadium,” Howard said. “The needs of our fans change over time. That means we need to change with them.”

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