FRYEBURG – After thousands of cell phones jammed the airwaves during last year’s Fryeburg Fair, Unicel boosted its technology in the area in anticipation of all the chatting bound to occur at the fair again this year.

Now, Fryeburg is home to Unicel system’s highest-capacity site, including those in Bangor and Burlington, Vt.

Peter Hyszczak, a sales director for Unicel’s northeast territory, said Thursday that Unicel engineers added capacity and installed a new tower in nearby North Conway, N.H., that should handle the throngs of fair-goers who will bring their cell phones to the fair.

“Frankly, we did some adding for last year, but we were totally surprised by the demand for wireless services last year. There was an upsurge from the previous year,” Hyszczak said.

According to people who were at the fair last year and locals who live in Fryeburg, many phones could not pick up a signal.

“It was very difficult to get on air with the cell phone, it was very frustrating,” Dean Baker, midway superintendent, said Friday. “I had lots of complaints, and everyone has been asking this year to see if there will be more space available.”

He said vendors could not make transactions, slowing their business.

“The thing that has compounded this is that so many people who are coming into the fair are using the phones to communicate within the fair,” he said. “They are communicating like that now, and we’ve never had that before.”

Cell phones are particularly handy at a huge, busy fairground. People use them to get in touch with family members who get separated, or to call friends a few rows down in the sprawling RV campground. Vendors call suppliers, and teenagers call each other.

Hyszczak said Unicel, which targets rural markets, does not want its customers to go without service when events, like concerts and fairs, blow through town.

“We wanted to make sure we heard our customers loud and clear,” he said, and Fryeburg is now “stocked to handle 154 simultaneous conversations.”

The new technology, called GSM for global systems mobile, helps those from away with various different cellular plans and increases the number of possible simultaneous conversations, according to Hyszczak .


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