Cell phones: text beats talk on Inauguration Day

WASHINGTON (AP) - December 16, 2008

The nation's wireless providers hope you'll reconsider.

Providers are boosting capacity in and around the National Mall to try to meet the demand of a crowd that is expected to exceed 1 million and may be much higher. But the industry warns that some dropped calls and delayed transmissions will be inevitable.

"If 4 million people show up on the Mall, absolutely expect delays," said Joseph E. Farren, a spokesman for CTIA, which represents the wireless industry.

Sprint said Tuesday that it plans to increase wireless capacity by 40 percent for cellular service and 90 percent for its walkie-talkie like feature. T-Mobile's preparations exceed those of any single-day event in the company's history, according to company spokesman Peter Dobrow.

Verizon Wireless, a big local player, referred questions to the industry association.

CTIA is suggesting that people avoid sending videos and photos from the scene, and send text messages instead of phone calls when possible to place less strain on the network.

While tourists may encounter some difficulties, wireless providers say they are taking steps to ensure that emergency personnel will have no service disruptions.

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