Cellphone Networks Survive Inauguration, Mostly

Dennis Faas's picture

Everybody was talking about Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday morning, and it showed. According to reports, a number of mobile phone networks faced overload circumstances that day until late afternoon, when the chat sessions finally began to dissipate.

Having the most trouble that morning appears to have been T-Mobile, with PC World reporting that one customer complained they were unable to make or receive calls throughout the entire morning leading up to Obama's appearance. With cellphones an often necessary lifeline for personal and business purposes, the victim's disgust is certainly understandable. (Source: pcworld.com)

AT&T also had some difficulty that morning. Despite preparing for the inauguration for months (AT&T extended its 3G coverage by a whopping eighty per cent and its 2G capacity by another sixty-nine per cent), some customers were unable to complete calls around the time of Obama's speech. Still, it appears AT&T had more success than its major competitor T-Mobile, with spokesman Mark Siegel reporting that aside from "some congestion," most customers were able to complete their calls.

Recognizing the possibility of a jam, AT&T kindly asked its Washington, D.C. customers to limit themselves to less-taxing texting, unless a call was absolutely necessary.

Verizon Wireless reported that it too was generally satisfied with the number of calls that got through. Although the company's network was forced to support about five times its usual load, spokeswoman Debra Lewis was pleased to reveal that "the vast majority of calls" were completed.

Of course, we're taking the company's word for it. The biggest complaint that lodged against T-Mobile, was filed by a customer -- not T-Mobile's PR staff.

Jeff Kagan, an independent telecom analyst, recognizes how frustrating it can be when a call doesn't get through. "In situations like this there simply cannot be enough capacity," he said. "So if the network is busy when you try your call, then just hang up and try again. As soon as someone else hangs up, another call can be taken."

In the end, most providers -- and thus far, customers -- agree that the coverage was better than expected. (Source: crn.com)

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