Cell Phone Service Disrupted At Tulsa State Fair

Monday, October 1st 2012, 11:00 pm
By: News On 6

It's been a major headache for people at the Tulsa State Fair to make a cell phone call. It's even impacting folks on the midway and in neighborhoods around the fairgrounds.

What's different this year is the number of cell phone towers. There's only one, which can't handle the avalanche of calls during the fair's busiest nights.

Even with all the attractions at the fair - dozens of people seem glued to their cell phones.

"We have a lot of guests out here and with that comes some overload on our cell towers," said Sarah Thompson, Tulsa State Fair.

The fair uses a cell tower that's on 15th street. This past weekend, that tower was working overtime forcing many calls to drop. It's frustrating for vendors like Erik Desonnaville who relies on his phone to make sales.

"Opening day, bell rings, no service. Can't call customers. Friday, same thing. You couldn't call accounting, couldn't call the bank," said vendor Erik Desonnaville.

It's not only affecting those at the fair. Teresa Driscoll and Jason Ontiveros live next to the fairgrounds. All weekend long, using their phones wasn't an option.

"You'll be speaking and all of a sudden it's just dead air - or text messages take a little longer to get to you," said Teresa Driscoll, Tulsa Fairgrounds-area resident.

 9/30/2012 Related Story: Musicians Are Pickin' and Grinnin' At Tulsa State Fair

"I keep trying to call my friend, and it was just 'call failed over and over again," said Tulsa resident Jason Ontiveros. "I had a text message yesterday at 1:35 and I got it at 2:05, and usually I don't have that problem around here."

Driscoll and Ontiveros say in the past, this has never been a problem. So why now?

"Temporary towers can be installed. This year, we're working with our partners, but there are no additional towers installed at this time," said Sarah Thompson of the Tulsa State Fair.

"It varies from year to year. It really depends on their availability through the providers."

Although cell service is a headache for most, U.S. Cellular customers aren't skipping a beat.

Laurence Stoll and the Oklahoma Authors booth use their phones to make transactions.

"It's been working great for me. I've had several transactions. The only problem I've had is I had to swipe my card more than once, but it always worked," said vendor Laurence Stoll.

People at and around the fair told us that cell service is worst during peak hours. On Monday, they were able to make calls.