Can you hear me now? Fort Collins blames cell service issues on growth

Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 01:07:25-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Dropped calls, messages that “failed to send," the dreaded “buffering.” The City of Fort Collins has a self-admitted problem with cell service, and they’re taking steps to try to fix it. 

“Cell coverage and capacity has become an issue,” city planner Clay Frickey told Denver7. “Some of the unintended consequences of growth.”

So many people have moved to Fort Collins over the last few years that it has caused a network traffic jam in the city.

“They don’t get my messages; I don’t get theirs. It’s frustrating,” one Fort Collins resident said, pointing to a "dead zone" off of Harmony Road.

“Some Friday nights are cool, some I have issues if I need to text my parents or my Uber is here or things along that line,” another resident said.

The problem is scattered in different places.

“In Old Town, the internet is slow. You’re unable to connect,” Frickey said. “When you get outside of town, it’s dropped calls, not being able to use their cell phones at all.”

Some residents told Denver7 they didn’t have any problems at all. 

Reporter Jason Gruenauer put speeds to the test. At rush hour along College Avenue, his speed test of the Verizon network came in at only 1.5 megabits per second. At that speed, it would take several minutes to download a song and even longer to do anything with HD video. 

But the city is trying to take proactive action. Frickey says they are working with cell providers on the details of an agreement regarding small cell facilities, technology installed on street lights and traffic signal poles that would boost the nearby cell and internet service. 

“Essentially when the tower gets overloaded, it will start to offload requests to the smaller facilities so it will provide you with internet coverage,” the city planner said. 

Speaking of cell towers, there aren’t many on the current Fort Collins skyline. Zoning requirements currently don’t allow for towers in residential or business districts, but that could change.

When asked if large cell towers could be a part of the future of Fort Collins, Frickey responded: “They will be in the future, absolutely.”