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Dialing delirium at the Olympics

Qwest and AT&T Wireless have spent nearly two years transforming a rugged Utah area into a cell phone nirvana for the Winter Olympics. So far, no one's complaining.

The Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium and other Winter Olympic venues in Utah were filled with Olympic spirit--and with millions of cell phone calls.

About 37 million wireless phone calls were made in Utah during the 18 days of Winter Olympic events, which is a record for that time period, according to estimates provided Wednesday by Qwest Communications and AT&T Wireless. The two companies shared the "official telecommunications provider" duties.

The companies spent nearly two years transforming a rugged Utah area--notorious for its cell phone call-killing mountains--into what they claimed would be a cell phone nirvana.

Both companies claimed that 99 percent of the calls made in or around the Olympic venues between Feb. 8 and Feb. 24 were never dropped or disconnected.

So far, there have been no complaints filed with the Utah Better Business Bureau about shoddy service, a representative said Wednesday, adding, "Not yet, anyway."

"I wish my own carriers were this good," said Aramani Polver, a New Jersey resident who stayed in Utah for the first three days of the games.

According to figures provided by AT&T Wireless, Olympic spectators were doing a lot of calling on their cell phones as the games went on in front of them.

AT&T Wireless said that between Feb. 8 and Feb. 24, its wireless network in Utah processed 9.6 million cell phone calls from arenas where the competitions took place, or about 500,000 calls a day.

Qwest said that more than 725,000 cell phone calls flooded the airwaves during the opening ceremonies. That is the highest number of calls Qwest has ever handled in Utah at one time.