Cingular Wireless cell phone customers should receive better reception on campus thanks to new antennas now in place at the top of Storke Tower.

The antennas, which became active in mid-January, are more powerful than the previous temporary antennas, which were located behind the CLAS building. In addition to the Cingular site, Storke Tower houses antennas for AT&T and Verizon. Elizabeth Robinson, adviser for Associated Students, said workers spent nearly a year installing the Cingular antennas and other essential equipment.

Paul Desruisseaux, associate vice chancellor for public affairs, said Cingular would also be installing a site in Harder Stadium, and that AT&T is seeking approval to add a site there.

UCSB now has 10 cell sites on campus, five of which are located on Francisco Torres Residence Hall.

Robinson said Cingular paid for the installation and will pay monthly fees that will be used to fund the Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Fund, La Cumbre Yearbook, KCSB-FM and the Daily Nexus.

Erik Nagy, planner for Santa Barbara County’s Energy Division, said the new antennas are small – generally two to four feet in length and eight to 12 inches in width and depth – and require little power. The new antennas also handle more calls than the old models, Nagy said.

Paul Valenzuela, associate director and operations manager of Communications Services, said UCSB is a busy cell area. More cell phone minutes go out of UCSB cell sites in a year than from the entire state of Hawaii, he said.

“Providers are inundated with complaints when their customers can’t get service, [so] the providers want to install more sites as quickly as possible,” Valenzuela said. “But the university wants to ensure that proper dialogue goes on about that. Preferable sites are those that are not concentrated with people. … Not everyone wants to live or work near those sites. There are health concerns about possible radiation.”

Jim Casto, a radiation safety officer at UCSB’s Dept. of Environmental Health and Safety, told the Daily Nexus in November 2002 that the cell towers are not health risks. He said cell companies all have licenses from the FCC and are required to fall within federally regulated levels of microwave production.

At least one Cingular customer has not noticed a change since the new antennas were installed.

“The reception seems the same,” freshman political science major Griselda Galindo said.