KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Bad wireless phone reception is plaguing the University of Hawaii's newest campus in West Oahu.
"In classrooms it's really, really bad. So you can't send or get anything. So you have to come out here [outside] or in a hallway to get any reception," said Andreanna Banta, a UH West Oahu freshman.
At this new campus, which just opened Aug. 20, mobile phone reception in and near all the buildings is generally terrible.
Deelynn Kaahaaina works on the campus, where she's a program manager for Holomua Gear-Up, an effort to encourage more low-income students to enter college.
"It's funny because you'll see many of us walking outside of the building to make a phone call on our cell phones. It's difficult to get reception," Kaahaaina said. "Most people have our cell phones as contact. So it's just kind of letting people know that 'Oh, if you can't reach me, it's because we don't have cellular service inside the buildings.' But you know, they can still contact us by email."
The new campus in Kapolei sits in the middle of what were once sugar cane fields, with no other development nearby. So there was previously no need for cell phone service in the area off of Farrington Highway.
Shaun Tomita, a junior public administration major, said he has to resort to old-fashioned solutions while at his campus job in the student services office.
"If I'm at work and I need to actually make a call to say my parents or anyone, then I would need to use the land line, because there's no cell phone coverage inside the office," Tomita said.
Wi-Fi service allows students, faculty and staff to get Internet access with smart phones, laptops and tablets within campus buildings, so they can check the web and email while inside.
But mobile phones inside campus buildings either show "no service" or "searching," because they're looking for a signal, which has a bad side effect.
"It will kill my battery," said Kiani Ahia, a UH West Oahu freshman. "So by the time when I do have a chance to come out to use my phone, my phone is like almost dead."
A UH West Oahu spokeswoman said the problem did not become evident until faculty and staff moved in just before the campus opened Aug. 20. The school has been in touch with a local representative for the cell phone companies to find a suitable location to install a cell tower, bringing full wireless coverage to the campus, she said.
"The safety of students isn't a factor with this. It's more of an inconvenience for everyone until we can get it resolved, and we hope that will be very soon," the school said in a statement.
UH officials could not estimate how long it will take to install a new cell tower. Some students and staff said they planned to complain to their wireless carriers, hoping that will speed up a solution.
In the meantime, not everyone noticed the problem.
"I wind up turning my phone off, just 'cause that's what I learned in high school. My parents always told me, if it gets confiscated, it's your fault," said Marlie Machado, a freshman.
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