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Dead Cells

Phone failing you at the airport? Here's a clue why.

Your cell phone doesn't always work from the airport, but do you know the reason?

The buzz is that cellular antennas are banned near airports, that air traffic control interferes with the frequencies used by wireless phones, and even that the control tower uses the same frequency as cell phones.

More likely, there are too many users trying to access the same cellular tower, according to John Grotland of GSM wireless service provider Omnipoint Communications. "There could be a bunch of people using the same carrier," he explains.

Then there are the so-called "dead spots" where a cell phone call can't be made, a factor exacerbated by height restrictions of antennas near airports. And some multilevel terminals shield passengers from a mobile phone signal on a lower floor.

George Shaginaw, senior vice president of technology and operations at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, says the industry is concerned about the challenges of making a connection at airports but that carriers are working to fix the problems. "Airports have some unique restrictions, and there's a higher concentration of people," Shaginaw says. "But we're trying to meet the demand from our customers."


Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at http://www.elliott.org

Contact Sources

Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association,http://www.wow-com.com

Omnipoint Communications, (973) 290-2453, jgrotland@omnipoint-pcs.com

Christopher Elliott is an Orlando, Fla., writer and independent producer who specializes in technology, travel and mobile computing. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. You can find out more about him on his website or sign up for his free weekly newsletter.

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Dead Cells.

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