February 19, 2006
 

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Posted: 11.30.04
Minding the Gaps
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Whenever someone buys a phone, one of the first questions on his or her mind is coverage. And then the inevitable happens. A colorful map is often displayed with vast swathes proclaiming the area as dutifully covered by said carrier. Everything looks perfect, but if it were possible to zoom in, all the little dead zones where calls routinely drop and frustration runs paramount would come into focus. This is the area a company called DeadCellZones.com hopes to shed some light on.  

By Bryan Pedersen




Users are able to go to the Web site and either search for a list of user-submitted “dead zones” in their calling region or voice their gripes by contributing to the growing database. The site is moderated by the owner, Jeff Cohen, and was launched four years ago when Jeff was living in L.A. near the beach. It was a major problem area for cell phone coverage at the time, and he decided to start an open database for other Los Angelinos on which to list problem coverage zones. The site quickly grew and soon Cohen opened it up to the entire country. Currently there are about 12,000 records in the database, which continues to grow.

Maintaining the open database has not been a problem according to Cohen. Though at first he was worried about people abusing the system, this has yet to happen. The data is so good that not only have cell phone users found the site useful, but the carriers as well. “We’ve had carriers come in and look at the database, and they will be amazed how accurate the data is,” Cohen states.

Most recently they have started a new trend in focusing on in-building dead zones. “We focus mainly on the large metro areas of the United States. Now we are working with a couple of companies that are interested in looking at in-building coverage for business,” says Cohen. “We are essentially creating a private form where people can submit coverage information about their company.”

One such company is Spotwave Wireless. Spotwave has partnered with DeadCellZones.com, and uses the database to see which companies could use better coverage. Then Spotwave contacts those companies and offers solutions to the problem, something Cohen sees as important for today’s business. “More and more companies are depending on BlackBerries, and all kinds of wireless devices. If a company is dependant on that, then you have to make sure everyone is on the same page and connected.”

Dave McFaul, director of product management at Spotwave, concurs, “Our cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses have become the primary way of reaching highly mobile professionals. Yet every day, our enterprise customers reiterate the need for improved coverage, especially those investing in data applications. Without question, this demand makes the building the next frontier for wireless coverage improvement.”

As DeadCellZones.com continues to innovate and grow, Cohen keeps his original purpose in mind. “The real issue is getting people connected more and more.”
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