SU student researches cell phone service in Shippensburg


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Will Davis, a student in Shippensburg University’s geography-earth science department has attempted to find an answer to the age-old debate on who provides better cell phone service by using modern technology.

Most students at SU use smartphones for entertainment and school work. Inevitably the question comes up; which service provider offers the best coverage in the area?

Will Davis decided he would test 3G coverage in Shippensburg between the two most popular cell phone service providers by using Verizon and AT&T. While using a smartphone from each provider, Davis downloaded the Network Signal Info application on each phone.

The app reported signal strength in a unit of measurement called dBm. The app provided Davis with an accurate tool to measure signal strength. The highest signal strength a smartphone can achieve is -50dBm. Any signal under -99dBm is considered weak, according to Davis.

Using a GPS device, Davis went to 40 points across Shippensburg, from the outskirts of town to the center of campus. He recorded the signal strength of each phone and the coordinates of his position on the GPS.

After recording the signal strengths from each position, data points were placed on a map. It was noted that the Verizon phone only went less -99dBm one time. The AT&T phone went under -99dBm nine times. These low strengths were all recorded on the outskirts of Shippensburg.

One of the most interesting aspects of the project was that for both phones, signal strength was extremely high on campus. “Signal strength almost seemed to follow the border of campus,” Davis said “We learned that where large amounts of people live, signal strength is increased.”

Since conducting his project, Davis still does not believe that one carrier is better than the other. “I don’t believe the results would sway me either way to give my business to Verizon or AT&T. With either carrier, you will get sufficient 3G coverage,” Davis said.


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