US Cellular service gets a boost around stadium

New light pole with cell phone antenna outside stadium

One of US Cellular's 15 antenna/light poles in a distributed system installed this fall. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

US Cellular completed a project last month to improve cellphone service around Jack Trice Stadium for its customers. In addition to faster service, a goal is to replace the trucks US Cellular parks south and northwest of the stadium during football season that have provided a temporary boost in service.

The project replaced poles and antenna with 15 new light poles with a black shroud, each containing a small cell antenna, creating a more effective distributed antenna system (DAS). The impacted area runs from Center Drive south of Hilton Coliseum to S. 16th Street; and from the west side Iowa State Center lots to the RV lot east of University Boulevard. As the name suggests, the concept behind a DAS is that cellphone customers have more possibilities for a sight line to an antenna, leading to less fading and better speeds in their cellphone service. Ten of the 15 new small cells have 5G and 4G cellular network capacity, with the other five providing exclusively 4G coverage.

Jack Trice Stadium seats more than 60,000 fans, but game day includes thousands more tailgaters who may not have tickets -- but they have cellphones.

US Cellar's contractor completed most of the work; an information technology services team from Iowa State ran fiber from the new poles to IT rooms at Veterinary Medicine and the Stark Performance Center. From those locations, US Cellular could route the signals to existing cell equipment housed in Black Engineering.