Wireless Carriers Readying Mobile Coverage in Capital for Inauguration

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-01-20 Print this article Print

Sprint’s steps include providing special satellite cell sites which will be available to public agencies. The company is also distributing Direct Connect phones to first responders, public safety and emergency management agencies, and its making its Wireless Priority Service available as needed.

Sprint is also increasing its data capacity for customers by more than a third, adding temporary cell sites and boosting voice capacity by 25 percent. The company is also deploying in-building cell sites and repeaters at inaugural event venues.

T-Mobile isn’t adding any temporary cell sites, according to a spokesperson, but instead has upgraded coverage in downtown Washington by adding new permanent cell sites, and by refarming all of it cell sites in the area to the 1900 MHz band so that T-Mobile’s voice and data coverage will be available to a larger number of users, including those with iPhones. This service will be compatible with the thousands of visitors expected from outside the U.S. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network in the DC area has been upgraded to support data communications at speeds up to 42 megabits per second.

“We don’t anticipate any problems,” said Verizon Wireless’ Melanie Ortel, who noted that Verizon Wireless didn’t have any capacity problems during the previous inauguration, either. But of course some people on some carriers did have problems making calls or staying connected, which is why AT&T is suggesting that visitors to Washington use text messaging and avoid sending photos and videos until they can get to a WiFi hotspot.

But of course the bottom line is that when you have hundreds of thousands of people all trying to make phone calls from the same limited number of cell sites at the same time, there may be congestion. So ask yourself, do you really need to call your friends and tell them that the President is being inaugurated? After all, they can see it on television for themselves.

Fortunately, the wireless carriers are ready. When you come to town, you’re sure to see a lot of mobile cell sites taking up space on the mall. You may see more of them in areas around Washington where there are inaugural events, and you’ll see extra cell sites on top of buildings, if you can make them out among the crowds of secret service agents, police snipers, security agents with anti-aircraft missiles and those black helicopters you hear about but never see. Oh. Wait. We weren’t supposed to mention the black helicopters.

So if you come to Washington, enjoy the festivities, but don’t look for me. I’ll be hiding out somewhere in Virginia where we don’t have cell service enjoying some peace and quiet.


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