GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Dowdy-Ficklen is now connected. The stadium, which is notoriously a dead zone during football games and other events including graduation, has received a major upgrade targeted at improving cell phone service. The lacking cell signal often caused problems for Pirates.
“It’s really an issue especially if you get separated because they have that weird rule where you can’t come back up to the gate unless you have your ticket,” says ECU Junior Sydney Hendricks. “You would get stuck stranded at the Chick-Fil-A stand with no phone, no way to contact anybody and no way to get back to your seat.”
The minimal connection translated into bigger problems when fans were in trouble.
“(At) one of the games where it was like one hundred degrees outside, my friend got really sick and dehydrated,” Hendricks says. “She couldn’t call anyone to tell them that she was leaving. She sat by the bathroom and just waited and still couldn’t find anybody. Everyone was looking for her so it could be something really serious.”
East Carolina plans to upgrade its cell connection across campus. The stadium is simply the first stage. The upgrade comes at no charge to the school or students.
“They get the carriers in place and the university has this at their advantage to get better coverage for safety,” says Marty Fox with ECU.
Verizon is the first carrier to sign on and the university hopes AT&T and U.S. Cellular aren’t far behind. The new system is currently operational and will allow Pirates to connect with Pirates while tailgating or cheering for the team.
“All they have to do is come out to the games and other events,” says Fox. “Whenever they’re connected to the network, they’ll be using the better system.”
The second stage of installation on campus is already underway. ECU expects connectivity to be improved campus-wide in the next year.