When considering New Year's Eve celebrations, you probably think of parties, Times Square, Dick Clark and one whopper of a hangover the following morning. These days, chances are you'll participate in one more New Year's tradition: texting your friends, family and old flames with greetings for the upcoming year. Sprint wants you to know your message is going to get through.
The communications company announced that its network team has taken steps to "bolster" wireless networks in areas where large crowds of people are expected to gather. Sprint said it has invested more than $15 billion in capital since 2006 to enhance its networks.
"New Year's is one of the highest text messaging days of the year," Bob Azzi, Sprint's senior vice president of network services, said in a statement. Azzi said the company anticipates traffic volumes for this New Year's Eve to be about 200 percent, double the normal rate.
Holidays and other large-scale events do put additional load on wireless networks, Azzi said, so preparation is critical to ensure high-performing networks when demand is at its highest. "Every year, we enhance our networks in areas like New York's Times Square, Las Vegas and in other cities across the nation where our customers may be celebrating," he said.
While text messaging in the under-30 crowd is rampant, studies show adults are growing accustomed to sending SMS messages. The number of adults who are texting has jumped from just two years ago, when a 2006 Pew Research study cited that 13 percent of adults ages 50-64 used the text messaging function on their mobile phone. An October study conducted by Sprint revealed that 20 percent of adults ages 55-64 now send text messages.
The report also discovered that 76 percent of adults ages 55-64 who are texting are sending messages to their children. Survey respondents said texting is a fast and efficient way for parents to stay in touch, so perhaps expecting a New Year's greeting from your mother won't seem so surprising.
Sprint's announcement comes on the heels of an article published in The New York Times that sent shock waves across online technology news outlets. In the article, Srinivasan Keshav, a professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, claimed it costs the four major wireless telecoms (Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon) almost nothing to carry SMS text messages, even though the price of individual text messages has doubled in the past three years.