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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Verizon investigating problems with cell phone service at 4-H Fair

Verizon users experienced problems with service at this year's fair.

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 29, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.

GOSHEN — According to a Verizon Wireless spokesperson on Monday, July 29, the hordes of music fans who hit the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds last week contributed to some slow service for Verizon users at the fair.

“A couple of years ago (Verizon) actually installed a tower right near the fairgrounds just to help with the usage at the fair,” Andrea Meyer, representative of Verizon Wireless Illinois/Wisconsion region, said on Monday. “(The fair) had a couple of big concerts with exceptionally high traffic for this event, so that’s what caused (the service issues). We are definitely aware of this and we will be looking to do something to help with capacity for next year.”

Meyer said it’s too soon to predict what the solution could be for next year’s fair.

Kristy Ambrosen, marketing manager for the fair, said that the great weather, popular performers, and more people with smart phones caused the problems with cell phone service. Most of the problems had to do with text messages being dropped or slow uploading of pictures to social media websites, Ambrosen said.

“The calls were not the problem, it was the data, ” Ambrosen said. “We did contact (Verizon) but they also knew about (the problems). We had some Verizon people on the ground at the fair, investigating the situation.”

The wireless internet connection owned and operated by the Elkhart County 4-H Fair had trouble keeping up with the record attendance at this year’s fair too.

“During this past fair week, there were more devices on our wi-fi system that any other fair before,” Ambrosen said. “We found that people were flipping back and forth (between Verizon service and the fair’s wi-fi) to whichever one they could get their information through.”

Ambrosen said that the fair board is looking for solutions to the problem.

“We will need to do something,” Ambrosen said. “In August, probably here in a couple of weeks, we will begin conversations about the entire communications system (at the fairgrounds). We will kind of get the IT minds together and they will figure out what the plan is.”

Ambrosen added that there aren’t plans to charge for the fair’s wi-fi yet.

“We do intend to try to keep the wi-fi free,” Ambrosen said.

She added that upgrading the current equipment to support more usage, however, would be costly.

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