The New York Times article “Inauguration Crowd Will Test Cellphone Networks,” and eWeek’s “Mobile Messaging to Reach Record High on Inauguration Day”
Both stories address the expected overload of wireless networks in and around the DC area for the event. COWS, COLTS and SatCOLTS are in-place, in presumably record numbers – but will they be enough?
According to the New York Times Article It seems as if some of the carriers don’t think so:
During huge events, carriers always try to squeeze more into traditional cellular and PCS bands, while most of them have huge swaths of WCS, AWS and other spectrum that sits unused. Rather than issuing statements hinting at their insecurity, would it have been effective to start tapping into these unused assets in preparation?
“The largest cellphone carriers, fearful that a communicative citizenry will overwhelm their networks, have taken the unusual step of asking people to limit their phone calls and to delay sending photos.”
Of course, it’s easier said than done. As reported, Sprint Nextel already said it had been planning for the inauguration since April and has increased capacity of its cell sites and terrestrial transmission lines to sustain 10 to 15 times the number of users it would serve on its networks during a normal day.
AT&T stated that along the parade route, it was adding 80 percent to the capacity of its 3G network, and the company is improving its slower 2G network by 69 percent and increasing staff by 60 percent. AT&T also claims it has increased coverage at 11 major hotels and deployed two satellite COLTs and two reserve satellite COLTs.
You can only throw so much hardware and personnel at a problem before the solution needs to come from a different angle… it’s time to start thinking about using all technically feasible spectrum in cell communications.
What’s going to happen next inauguration when everyone wants to transmit live video from their phones?
Let’s put all the idle spectrum these carriers hold to use. If the build up to today’s historic situation in DC doesn’t warrant taking these spectrum assets off the shelf and into the networks – what will? A panicked reaction to patch broken networks?
photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense; U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Brooks (2nd from right) and U.S. Navy Yeoman 1st Class Lasean McCray, playing the roles of President-elect Barak Obama and Michelle Obama, are interviewed during the rehearsal of the 56th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 11, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington's 1789 inauguration. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Adelita C. Mead, U.S. Army. (Released)