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Cellphone Networks Survive Inauguration, Mostly

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the ever-more-robust dept.

Cellphones 121

nandemoari writes "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, and AT&T also had some difficulty that morning."

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All circuits are busy now (5, Funny)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26548971)

Please try first post again later.

Re:All circuits are busy now (1)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549033)

Damn, I kept refreshing but I can't seem to get through to first post. Maybe if I keep posting I'll be WSDT's 106th poster. What do I win??

Improving networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26548997)

Why are service providers in the USA so averse to improving their networks? Broadband in the USA is extremely slow, and this shows that even the cell towers are inadequate.

Shhh! (5, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549127)

Be vewy vewy quiet!

If they don't ask why the service isn't getting better but the prices are getting higher, they'll never suspect that we'd rather hoard cash instead of reinvesting it! Teeheeheehee!

---
Sincerely,
That company that would charge you $5000 to send an MP3 over SMS

Re:Improving networks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549303)

Why would they build a network capable of handling extreme peaks in usage? It's much less wasteful for them to do quick fixes (CoW, etc.) during the times they need it than to build that capacity into the network.

Re:Improving networks (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552809)

> Why would they build a network capable
> of handling extreme peaks in usage?

Large scale emergencies?

Re:Improving networks (4, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549591)

Why do people assume it's so easy to magically improve the infrastructure of the entire US? Have you compared the size of America to the size of Europe or Japan? The lower 48 are huge even without including Alaska. I want faster broadband and improved cell phone coverage too but lets be realistic. We're a bit bigger than Japan / insert-random-euro-country-that-we-should-be-like.

Re:Improving networks (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549763)

Russia? That is a good side. I dont know about their network though.

Re:Improving networks (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549823)

red herring. if thats true than explain why cell service is as crappy in Manhattan than in bumsticks OK.
 

Re:Improving networks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550635)

Because New York City is run buy a collection of corrupt thugs that like to tax and stagnate things. You can't have a tower somewhere a condo is going to be built. Plus you always have to brib...go through the proper channels and get the proper permits. Doing anything in New York City without wasting a shitload of money is impossible. Don't expect it to get any better there with a self-righteous mayor, a wimpy Governor, and the city council sold to the highest bidder.

Re:Improving networks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549985)

Canada. Russia. Northern Europe. All countries have similar population density.

Re:Improving networks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550277)

I don't care what the Risk board says, Northern Europe is NOT a country.

Re:Improving networks (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551209)

Really? How about Western Australia? Should I consider another base?

Re:Improving networks (1)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550977)

All three of those regions are rather close to the arctic circle. Although the population density of the country may be similar, I'd venture a guess and say that most of the people are rather concentrated in major cities (or, in Canada, along the southern border).

In the US, the population is more widely dispersed than in these three areas. In other words, we have more people living in "the middle of nowhere" than they do, and our major cities are more separated as well.

How about fixing just the cities (5, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550033)

Yeah, we all know that the whole country is big, but the cities are relatively small. Why is it that people drop calls while driving through some areas of Silicon Valley?

My brother is an international tour guide and uses a cellphone in places like Rwanda which has about the same coverage density as USA. Is that what the USA industry really wants to be compared to?

Re:How about fixing just the cities (1)

nettablepc (1437219) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552685)

And nobody ever drops calls in European cities? Bah. Any attempt to compare that uses individual experiences is meaningless. You need a large sample. Take a statistics class, at least enough of one to fool people who have not.

Re:How about fixing just the cities (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26554019)

Well, there is one particular advantage to Europe and most of Africa and other places around the world. They have standardized on one type of cell tech where in the US we at one time had five or more and about 20 different companies competing to be the next big thing. I think we are still using something like 3 different channels and about 4 different types of technology. Most phones can use more then one at a time.

Anyways, this is an artifact of being free and having companies bring Cell phones to the masses long before the government decided it was a right or something. In Europe, they didn't have this, one base telecoms in charge of each country (despite there might be alternative providers) and different companies offer or resell services from that. In Briton, I believe the government took control of the telephone companies in 1911 or so where in the US, outside of a monopoly for a while with a private company, it has always been competition in a market regulated by the government.

Anyways, comparing Europe, Russia, Australia and Africa to the US as many people have attempted to do is a little like comparing apples to motorcycles. I'm sure you can find something in common but they are very different beasts entirely.

Re:How about fixing just the cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26554051)

I work in this industry and it's really hard to find land to lease especially in big cities. You have to deal with zoning, environment, etc. IF all goes well then it take about 6 months. You just can't built anywhere you want.

Re:Improving networks (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550479)

Why do people assume it's so easy to magically improve the infrastructure of the entire US?

Critcism makes us appear smarter. I remember one time there was a story about a 55x CD burner being the fastest one available at the time. I sarcastically said something like "why do we need faster burners? All you have to do is wait longer!" and was modded Insightful.

Re:Improving networks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550807)

IIRC, when I modded your comment insightful, I was also being sarcastic.

Re:Improving networks (2, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550573)

Why do people assume it's so easy to magically improve the infrastructure of the entire US? Have you compared the size of America to the size of Europe or Japan? The lower 48 are huge even without including Alaska. I want faster broadband and improved cell phone coverage too but lets be realistic. We're a bit bigger than Japan / insert-random-euro-country-that-we-should-be-like.

Puh-lease. It's as simple as adding a line item in the upcoming stimulus plan. A few billion extra dollars isn't going to break the bank. And it will create jobs - high paying, stable jobs. And it will also help revive our education system.

And, I'll get a pony in the bargain.

Patriotism, it empties your head (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26551373)

Your argument would be valid if cities had fast broadband.

The only people who trot out this argument are too blind to see that state of broadband in America. Broadband gets cheaper all over the world, but it only gets more expensive here.

Re:Improving networks (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552369)

yet your only slightly bigger than Australia which has a population of just 21 Million and our phone service doesn't suck.

Re:Improving networks (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552479)

You are entirely correct.

However, the mobile providers also get goverment subsidies and make profits that would make any retailer sell his soul to get 10% of what they make.

America is larger and harder to cover with cells than most of Europe, our providers also make FAR FAR more than they need to for the investment in infrastructure upgrades to be considered sane. Theres no excuse for the service we get out of mobile providers in the states.

Re:Improving networks (2, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552655)

That excuse is fine in the really sparse states, but most the people don't live in those really sparse areas and yet still many are left with poor service and little choice.

If you compare VA and Scotland you get a broadly similar area. Population sizes are within 15%. VA has high population density in NoVA, Scotland has it in the Central Belt.

Scotland has 99% ADSL coverage with a wide choice of providers, right down to many sparsely populated island communities. The Government is investing to fill in the empty areas.

Cell phone coverage is almost ubiquitous in any medium sized village and along every major road. The cities have decent 3G coverage from multiple providers and that is now extending to the smaller towns with populations around 20k.

The same is decidedly not true in Virginia. I'm not suggesting Scotland is an IT utopia, there are certainly improvements that can be made. Nor is it the only available example, other European countries offer similar or better.

But yes, parts of the US are lagging other similarly sized, populated and developed countries.

Re:Improving networks (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26554033)

Yeah but its sad when Australia beats you at broadband and mobile coverage. :P

Ahh the benefits of having a consumer and competition comission.

Where's the motivation (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549757)

If people continue to pay high prices for shit service then where is the motivation to improve the infrastructure? They might bitch, they might grumble, but they still pay.

Re:Where's the motivation (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549895)

What sort of improvements should be made to handle an extreme peak not likely to happen again? I think it worked out pretty damn well, being that I was two miles from the ceremonies and suffered no outages at all.

Re:Where's the motivation (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550197)

Can't agree more.. Please don't actually TALK on your unlimited plan. Please use text messaging, as its basically free for us to send through the network, and we get to charge you $0.25 each for them! (and in reality, they charge twice for one message sent/received)

Re:Where's the motivation (3, Informative)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551319)

$0.25 US Dollars per text message??

That's just... insane

Here in Mexico I pay 80 peso cents for each text message sent (aprox. 0.057 USD). I pay nothing for messages received. ...and that's because I am using a prepaid phone, most people with monthly plans have unlimited text messaging.

Re:Where's the motivation (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550321)

If people continue to pay high prices for shit service then where is the motivation to improve the infrastructure?

To beat out the competition, of course.

It might not have been feasible to improve the infrastructure with wired connections, but with Cell Towers, most people are going to go with the service that gives the most bars. -I- switched after I noticed all my friends getting full reception in my neighborhood while I constantly went in and out of signal.

You can thank the COWs (4, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549045)

Seriously, the Cell on Wheels [wikipedia.org] installations were part of what made it possible to handle the extra traffic.

Re:You can thank the COWs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549391)

Q: What did the police man say to the CoW?

A: You're blocking the view of the President. Mooooove along!

(Yes, it's so bad I had to post anonymously out of shame.)

Re:You can thank the COWs (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549687)

Q: What did the police man say to the CoW?

Mu?

Re:You can thank the COWs (0, Offtopic)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549883)

is this the Mu? [wikipedia.org]

Re:You can thank the COWs (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550069)

That's the one.

Re:You can thank the COWs (3, Funny)

powerlord (28156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549447)

Seriously, the Cell on Wheels installations were part of what made it possible to handle the extra traffic.

Aha! I didn't RTFA but no doubt the Dept. of Homeland Security was involved in finding all those Cells.

I hope they detained them for further questioning, although I still don't understand why the terrorists were using Heelys [heelys.com] .

Unmissable revenue opportunity (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549617)

Hardly a charitable act. Do you really think the providers were going to miss an opportunity like this? They'd have pretty much been guaranteed 100% utilization of equipment that often stands relatively idle.

As for the content.... more does not mean better. Having millions sending vids and pics shot with crappy cellphone lenses was hardy of benefit. A few real camera crews with real cameras provided all the really useful (ie worth viewing) material.

Re:Unmissable revenue opportunity (0, Offtopic)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549987)

Hardly a charitable act. Do you really think the providers were going to miss an opportunity like this? They'd have pretty much been guaranteed 100% utilization of equipment that often stands relatively idle.

An excellent point, and I never really thought of it as something the companies were doing out of the kindness of their own hearts, anyways. It really was more a game of one-upmanship for them, to see whose network could handle the most volume that day. I'm surprised the providers haven't put those numbers out yet to try to declare whose network was the best that day.

Granted I was over 300 miles away from Washington DC when the inauguration happened, but it just occurred to me I didn't even make a call that day until late in the evening. I have no idea if the network my phone is on was effected by inauguration traffic or not.

Re:Unmissable revenue opportunity (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550955)

Hardly a charitable act

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages."

-Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book I Chapter II

Re:Unmissable revenue opportunity (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552385)

As for the content.... more does not mean better. Having millions sending vids and pics shot with crappy cellphone lenses was hardy of benefit. A few real camera crews with real cameras provided all the really useful (ie worth viewing) material.

No, but had there been an assassination if might be interesting.

I wonder what it would have been like if there'd been modern cellphones in November 1963. Assuming that the millions of photos and frames of video could be sifted through.

Verizon (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549059)

Just another example of the pros and cons of different companies in the cell phone market. I went to the Inauguration with my Verizon phone, and had no trouble making a few calls or texting people right from the mall.

On the other hand, I am still trying to find a way to get away from Verizon and onto AT&T or T-Mobile, because their phones are mediocre, customer service is below par, and they restrict their devices.

It's all about what you want to sacrifice when buying a phone - a wide network and more call/text service, or a better device that is on an open platform.

Re:Verizon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549547)

Um, couldn't you just buy your own device and use whatever carrier you want?

Re:Verizon (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549689)

Um, couldn't you just buy your own device and use whatever carrier you want?

Not from the U.S., I take it?

Re:Verizon (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550769)

Um, couldn't you just buy your own device and use whatever carrier you want?

Not from the U.S., I take it?

In the US you absolutely CAN buy your own device and hook it up to whatever carrier covers the system (GSM, EDGE, etc.) It's the law. What you CANNOT do is buy a supercool smartphone for the (subsidized) price of $99.99 - you have to buy at list.

It's not that Americans are being shafted because they can't get out of contracts they agreed to, but that we're addicted to having the latest phone and paying little for it.

Re:Verizon (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551193)

In the US, using Sprint, I buy my own phones and when I try to replace my existing phone I get told "Sir, activating that phone will require a 2 year agreement." What? What the hell? I paid for this thing. Why should I sign a contract? I have no choice so I say yes.

The problem in the US is that you have no rights with cell phone carriers. I havent gotten a subsidized phone in ages, but Im still locked into contracts. I guess there's always the option of some pay per month crap phone, but I need a smartphone with a unlimited data plan.

Lots of us are willing to pay full price or buy used phones, but the system is gamed for contract lock-in.

Re:Verizon (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551919)

Then A) get a different provider or B) DON'T sign the contract and get a lawyer. Legally they can't keep you from using your own phone you bought if its actually compatible with their system. This is why I love T-Mobile. SIM cards make it easy and you don't even have to bother them with it.

Re:Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26552203)

Seconded. I have T-Mobile and use several different models of unlocked phones, including ones from other carriers such as Cingular. Pop in a SIM card and roll. Never had a lick of trouble.

Re:Verizon (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549669)

On the other hand, I am still trying to find a way to get away from Verizon and onto AT&T or T-Mobile, because their phones are mediocre, customer service is below par, and they restrict their devices.

And AT&T and T-Mobile don't restrict their devices?

Re:Verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550835)

You can use any unlocked device on an AT&T or T-Mobile network. No asking, begging, or pleading with support to get your phone on their network. It usually only takes adding a SIM card and you're good to go. Also I believe that after a fixed amount of time (at least on T-mobile) they will unlock a t-mobile branded phone for you to use on any other network you want. So i'd say that they are at the very least, less restrictive than Verizon when it comes to that. Also don't forget how Verizon treats bluetooth (no OBEX support) forcing you to send your photos over their network for the cost of a quarter. Verizon is the master of the closed network.

Re:Verizon (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551647)

Okay, but AT&T and T-Mobile won't actually sell you an unlocked phone. You have to buy it 3rd party, which means you're going to be paying full price.

Re:Verizon (1)

colin_young (902826) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551921)

I'm running an unlocked phone on T-Mobile. T-Mobile will give you the unlock code for your phone after you've been with them for some time (I think 3 months), and you can add and delete features (like data plans) at will without contract extensions. I do have to "lie" on my online profile since the phone I own isn't a model they actually carry in the US market in order to make certain features available.

I would say mitigated (2, Interesting)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549091)

From what I heard they put up extra towers, and attempted to inform people of the potential problem. Encouraging users to not use the infrastructure is not surviving. If they had survived service would not have been interrupted based in normal use, not a reduction. Obviously I did not RTFA.

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

Re:I would say mitigated (3, Insightful)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549427)

If they had survived service would not have been interrupted based in normal use, not a reduction

I don't think 2M people in a few square miles all texting, pic/vid messaging, and calling is "normal use".

Mitigating [merriam-webster.com] any *major* issues brought about with extreme usage is survival, to me.

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

DeionXxX (261398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549805)

Well, it's "normal use" in Manhattan, or Boston, or most downtown areas of major cities (especially in the middle of the work day).

Re:I would say mitigated (2, Interesting)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550017)

Density of Manhattan is 70,000 per sq mile, Density of Boston is 12,000 per sq mile.

Re:I would say mitigated (2, Insightful)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549981)

There weren't even close to 2 million people. In fact it's unclear if the Obama inauguration even surpassed the record of 1.2 million previously set by Lyndon Johnson. This smells just like the "Million Man March", more media perpetuated bullshit.

Re:I would say mitigated (3, Interesting)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550119)

Ah but was Johnson's one really 1.2 million? How did they get that figure?

There is a cool satellite image of it all going around, like here [washingtonpost.com] , so you imagine someone could eventually come up with a good estimate of yesterdays one.

How do they estimate crowd sizes anyway, fair enough in a stadium (80,000 seats all full = 80,000 people) but for other things it seems to be bordering on random guessing.

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550383)

The National Park Service produced official estimates until 1995, when they were ordered by congress to stop, after being sued by Louis Farrakhan for estimating only 400,000 attended the Million Man March. They're providing official estimates for the size of the inauguration crowd.

Re:I would say mitigated (2, Interesting)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551379)

Right so after staring at the picture I linked to and allowing 2.5 sq foot per person in the crowded bits, I reckon 500,000 on the mall at the time of the picture, there was another 200,000 invited people in the capitol grounds, and then there are the people still crowding the streets. Picture was taken half an hour before and 18th street still looks crowded in that picture. So I don't know 900k in total?

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551753)

I heard that the estimate is the mall holds around 1.0-1.2 million when full. I don't know how accurate that is, but I'm guessing someone who knows more about it than you or I came up with that. ;-)

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

Deag (250823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551985)

It would depend what is defined as the mall also - Is it just the bit from 3rd street to the Washington monument or do you go all the way to the Lincoln memorial.

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550497)

Generally you try to estimate the total area covered by crowds, and then estimate the density of the crowd. It's very much a guess, but it can be fairly accurate if you come up with decent density numbers.

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550535)

I suppose I could have mentioned, both the area and density estimates typically come from aerial photographs.

Re:I would say mitigated (2, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550371)

No idea if it was 1.2M, 1.4M, or 2M (all figures that I've seen reported at various places), but it was easily the largest crowd I have ever seen in one place before. And the fact that there wasn't a single arrest made during all of it just shows how great humanity can be if given the right opportunity.

Re:I would say mitigated (2, Informative)

niro5 (1081199) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549535)

People certainly didn't seem to be reducing their usage. I was in area closest to the capitol (the infamous Purple section) and made four or five calls successfully. I generally needed to make two attempts to make it happened, but it always happened. The woman next to me also had Verizon and her phone was ringing...ahem..."off the hizzy" Certainly it wasn't a typical Tuesday on the mall, but I was impressed on how easy it was to make a call. I'd say of all the things that should be improved in the future for large gatherings of humanity, cell reception is probably good enough now to be towards the bottom of the list.

Re:I would say mitigated (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552199)

I was by the Washington Monument on Sunday and on Tuesday. In either case, I couldn't do anything with my AT&T Blackberry Pearl. Texts, Emails, calls, and internet browsing (google maps) all failed the entire time I was there. It wasn't until the evening that the phone appeared to be running properly.

lessons (3, Interesting)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549253)

I think most companies learned a lesson on 9/11 when the main cell tower in New York was on the World Trade Center, that they have to have a quick and effective way to get "Temp-Towers" up to handle the over flow and extra traffic. Guess its not something they can test to make sure it works well, lets hope they never have to use it on a regular basis.

Re:lessons (4, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550883)

Ref. 9/11, it wasn't just the cell towers, a huge number of high-speed data lines were cut. You can't have a working cellular system without the data lines that connect all the nodes in the network.

Re:lessons (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551805)

Sure they could test it. The only problem is stupid people would not realize it's better to test it on some random Wednesday afternoon and risk failure then, than to test it during an emergency. If they run a test and it goes badly, they get major bad PR, when they really should get good PR for trying to make sure their systems work ahead of time.

So they end up doing exactly what you said - don't test it at all, and just hope there's no emergency.

Waiting for Congestion Charges (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549379)

To appear on ~1M mobile phone bills.

My experience (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549455)

I was down on the Mall yesterday and tried to make a few calls to someone who got separated from our group. Nothing was going through. I then decided to send a text message to her. She got it close to an hour later (after we'd already met up again). Apparently it was completely hit or miss as to whether your call or text got through.

Re:My experience (5, Informative)

panoptical2 (1344319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549707)

If the phone infrastructure is down, then texting is actually less reliable. I think Slashdot posted an earlier story [slashdot.org] about how texts actually piggyback onto the spare bandwidth of the network's phone infrastructure; the texts do not travel on a separate network. This goes to explain why your text wasn't received until almost an hour later...

Re:My experience (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549801)

That would make sense. After speaking with a few other people who were also down there (the joy of living 2 miles away from the Mall), their phone calls were also completely spotty all morning. Some got through fine. Others went straight to the recipient's voicemail. Some just sat there on the "calling" window with no connection. It seems that it didn't really matter which combination of carriers were involved.

Re:My experience (2, Interesting)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552121)

NPR was running a story on the cell phone aspect of the inauguration yesterday morning. They reported the carriers were encouraging people to text instead of call (which I'm sure was only to save bandwidth and had nothing to do with the massively inflated cost per text - which /. has also covered) I will say though that my girlfriend was texting back and forth from the mall a lot, while she had to press send a couple of times for some messages, once they were through, they were delivered in a timely fashion - she also didn't seem to have any problem receiving messages (on verizon).

Re:My experience (1)

222 (551054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26553505)

Correct. SMS uses the call control channel for data transmission, which is why you can text without having a data plan enabled on your phone.

You were also correct in assuming that massive calls = lots of call control signaling = not much room left for SMS.

Data network not taken seriously (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26549477)

I was on the Mall in DC, and AT&T's data network was completely down through most, if not all, of the day. Since they have to dedicate channels to data, I'm sure they decided to abandon data completely. Another example of how current data carriers don't take their data networks seriously. They're *obviously* not as important as voice...

Re:Data network not taken seriously (1)

Benthos (35080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551173)

I was on the Mall in DC as well, and found the same thing with AT&T. Although I had very spotty voice services, I was receiving texts over 2 hours after they were sent and had no larger data transfer capabilities.

Re:Data network not taken seriously (1)

squirrelist (412181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552169)

On AT&T and had trouble with text too. 1 to 2 hour delays. However, the data network seemed to run without a hitch, and my iPhone 3G was uploading photos to Facebook without any noticeable slowdown.

I could make the occasional phone call if I kept trying.

Re:Data network not taken seriously (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552211)

I'm thirding this. AT&T was dead for me on Sunday and Tuesday.

Re:Data network not taken seriously (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26551589)

Another example of how current data carriers don't take their data networks seriously. They're *obviously* not as important as voice...

Man, do I second that. Occasionally I'll get text messages from nagios hours after it detected a problem. That's complete bullshit. If they're going to gouge everyone for SMS messaging, they better have some outstandingly low latency for it. Seems like to me this is something that could spur a class-action lawsuit..

Re:Data network not taken seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553909)

So I should _expect_ my free voicemail to arrive 2 weeks late? I agree text shouldn't be a separate fee, but they've got more problems than just DC during the inauguration.

Can you here me now? (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549487)

Well, yea...I mean there brough in like extra cell towers for the local area.

the real problem (2, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549597)

They couldn't fit that giant crowd of people from the Verizon commercials (or whatever company that is) into the area that was already overpacked. That was the real problem. Btw as for the people who keep saying the cell towers on wheels solved all the problems, I dunno what moron thought that was going to help but there's only so much bandwidth available in the air regardless of the number of towers and you can't have them stomping on each other.

Re:the real problem (1, Informative)

xenolion (1371363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26549997)

like i said its not something they can test every day with the portable towers. I'm with you, you can only fit so much in one area, the only way around is to have them on differnet channels but most people dont have phones that can switch channels by themselfs(i may have to edit this again need to see if i can find a phone that can)

Re:the real problem (4, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550781)

The network tells the phone which channels to use. The trick to increasing capacity in cellular networks is to reduce the transmitter power and cell size. This increases frequency reuse.

Re:the real problem (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550749)

First, I am not a cellular tech weenie, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I have had to learn some of this stuff over the years in self-defense, and what I understand is that to increase the call capacity in an area there are three main things that can be done. One, use sectorized antennas; two, add towers and turn their power down to create a larger number of smaller cells; three, add to the number of links to the terrestrial network.

I don't have a car analogy, but think of it like this: You can light up a room with a single 300 watt bulb, but you get more even light with a string of twelve 25 watt lights evenly spaced around the room.

Re:the real problem (1)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552197)

Btw as for the people who keep saying the cell towers on wheels solved all the problems, I dunno what moron thought that was going to help but there's only so much bandwidth available in the air regardless of the number of towers and you can't have them stomping on each other.

Apparently those "morons" that actually work as cellular engineers. You roll in the cell sites on wheels (COWs), drop the output power of neighboring cells, and voila increased capacity!

But hey, I guess it's just easier to call someone a name whenever you don't understand how something works.

Looks like the setup needs to be tweaked more. (2, Interesting)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550217)

If this was an emergency like on 9/11/2001, then this would had been very bad.

Re:Looks like the setup needs to be tweaked more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26551853)

If this was an emergency like on 9/11/2001, then this would had been very bad.

Because it's so common to have 1M+ people in the area of 1 square mile?!?

Need for social engineering too (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552357)

People need to learn that during a 9/11 they should not use phone services (cell or landline) except for vital comms. Cut the twitter, OMG! video to friends and all that crap. Leave the airwaves for those that need it. Same deal for cars etc. Stay away and leave the roads for emergency vehicles.

Re:Need for social engineering too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26553361)

People also need to learn that they shouldn't slam on their brakes during rush hour in order to stare at some guy getting a traffic ticket on the other side of the fucking highway.

I'm not holding my breath.

FiRst p0st! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550613)

time I'm done here, users. Surprise show that *BSDX has at my frrelance

Facebook (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26550723)

I'm curious to see numbers on Facebook's traffic during/after the inauguration. It seemed like I was getting a ton of "So-and-So has updated Something-or-Another" during the hours immediately after.

Re:Facebook (1)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552227)

I bet a nice chunk of this was due to people watching the CNN live feed at work. CNN partnered with facebook so that the live video feed page had your friends' facebook status, and gave you the opportunity to update your own status while watching the inauguration.

Who cares? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26550873)

College football games get big enough crowds to overload cell networks. Is it really surprising the inauguration did? Can we get some informative articles please.

Inauguration from a CMDA point of view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26551961)

I was there the whole day for the inauguration and the parade. I have Verizon, and had no noticible problems with making calls or sending/recieving SMS.

My husband, however, has Sprint. He was able to make a 10 minute call in the morning until the system kicked him off, and then his phone was a 4-bar-signal useless brick for the rest of the day.

Such a thorough study ... (1)

NameIsDavid (945872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552273)

The article bases its claim that T-Mobile had the biggest problem on "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." One customer!

T-Mobile sucks in DC (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26552495)

No surprise that T-Mobile had so much trouble. I've heard they're OK elsewhere, but in the DC area their coverage is horrible. Pity too because they have the best phones... First the sidekick and now android.

My experience with Sprint (1)

singularity (2031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26554137)

I use Sprint and was about 250m from the Washington Monument. While I had full bars the entire morning, texts were hit or miss - sometimes they went through, othertimes they did not. Calling was impossible. I tried calling twice and neither ever actually got through.

A friend with AT&T was able to get texting to work, but was not able to call nor to send a picture message.

All in all? I would not say they "survived".

Only in the sense that I can use my Sprint phone today, I suppose.

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