Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mobile carriers expect network strain on Inauguration Day

As American citizens countdown to President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration today at 12 p.m., wireless networks have made an unusual request for the estimated 2 million people that will descend on the National Mall to watch the historic event. They have asked that inauguration-goers limit their phone calls and delay sending photos.

Despite having spent millions of dollars to temporarily upgrade their networks in Washington, mobile phone carriers are worried that a spike in data transmission will overwhelm their towers. Radios have been added to towers already in place, and network-equipped trucks costing hundreds of thousands of dollars have been placed in Washington to ease the potential overload.

Sprint Nextel has been preparing its network since April to sustain 10 to 15 times the number of users it normally expects. AT&T Mobility is spending US$4 million on upgrades that have added 80 percent capacity to its 3G network and 69 percent capacity to its 2G network. [via New York Times]