Cell providers prepare for inauguration

President-elect Barack Obama on his cell phone

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today's inauguration will be a big test for the cell phone industry.
Just think of all those people texting and calling and uploading pictures during the big moment. Jeremy Hobson has more.


Jeremy Hobson: Cell providers boost capacity for events like the Super Bowl and NASCAR races. But Joe Farren of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association says today's inauguration will likely dwarf those gatherings when it comes to network demand.

Joe Farren: We're talking about millions and millions of additional people converging in what is a very small area.

Farren says cell users should text, not talk, to reduce network congestion. And mobile companies are sending in temporary cell towers on wheels and boosting capacity of existing towers.

Sprint-Nextel Spokesman John Taylor says the company got a trial run at Sunday's Inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

John Taylor: We had an additional one million calls during that event.

The price tag for all this increased capacity is a secret, but Verizon spokesperson John Johnson says:

John Johnson: Verizon Wireless has invested more than a billion dollars in greater D.C. since 2000.

Perhaps out of fear that any carrier that can't handle today's call volume may not be re-elected by its customers.

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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