ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – If you’ve found yourself without cell service in a large crowd in Abilene, you’re not alone. Multiple residents have voiced concerns on the issue, finding it difficult to get a signal when at parades, football games, or even on a college campus.
“I live on campus at ACU (Abilene Christian University) … Usually my service won’t work very well, or at all. I can’t send messages, or I can’t send videos, Snapchat or anything like that,” said ACU student Brian Lester.
While not everyone has experienced or is affected by the signal issue, the professionals say there are many variables at work. One reason for the drop in signal is a lack of available bandwidth, as according to local phone repair professional, Jeramyha Zilkey.
“What happens there is when there’s so many people in one space, they’re all connecting to the same tower,” Zilkey explained. “Adding more will obviously fix the issue of location-based connection, but when it comes to bandwidth, really, it just comes down to making stronger towers.”
As Abilene continues to expand, and attract visitors and residents, some say cell bandwidth should be seen as a form of infrastructure, much like the roads.
“It’s kind of like when you get a lot of traffic in the city that you weren’t expecting, then all the sudden, you’re having to widen the roads – which Abilene is having to do a lot of,” compared Abilene resident Chris Allen.
To put the issue simply, there needs to be more to go around in any given area where crowds amass. It’s an issue that is expected to continue to develop with the city.
“If you imagine a pool of water, and somebody is throwing sponges into it, every sponge that goes into it is taking some of that water,” Zilkey analogized. “It’s kind of the same idea. You run out of water eventually.”
Currently, Abilene has just shy of 20 5G capable cell towers in and around city limits. This, compared to cities like Odessa which has around 30, as according to CellMapper.
Zilkey also suggested removing a thick or metallic phone case to help strengthen your connection. Unfortunately, though this is usually only a minor change in most cases.