Cell Networks Expected to Jam on Inauguration Day

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Cellular providers have beefed up their networks in anticipation of today's history-making event, but they're still asking customers attending the inauguration to "text, don't talk" in order to keep the airwaves clear.

The Washington Post reported that at Sunday's Lincoln Memorial concert, people made and sent about 10 times the average volume of calls, texts, pictures, and videos as "on the busiest hour of a typical day." This barrage of data caused scattered network outages and delays. Turnout for today's event is expected to reach almost two million, which would increase the likelihood of widespread outages.

Onlookers to today's events are expected to send a plethora of multimedia messages, most of which are likely to come from cellular devices--and will use cellular airwaves to transport data.

Some carriers are confident in their ability to handle the heavy load. A spokeswoman for Sprint told the Post that Sprint's network on Sunday "worked about as well as we expected." Spokespeople from Verizon and AT&T, the nation's largest wireless providers, told MSNBC there haven't yet been significant problems other than the anticipated delays.

Carriers are also rolling in trucks jacked up with satellites to transmit signals from attached towers to network centers.

So while it seems many providers are doing all that's possible to ensure a seamless digital experience for customers, there are many variables that could go wrong and interrupt data transmission today. For those who'd prefer to stay put and watch the unfolding events, PC World has a guide on how to watch without leaving your home.

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