Cell providers plan for extra usage during eclipse weekend

Cell providers plan for extra usage during eclipse weekend

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The total solar eclipse is now less than two weeks away. The historic event is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the area, which could pose a problem if everyone is attempting to use their cell phones at the same time.

There have been many preparations leading up to this big event, and that includes planning for the extra cell phone usage that weekend. Cell phone providers like AT&T say they've been working ahead of schedule to keep data-hungry crowds connected.

"The last time we had a huge eclipse type of event, people took out their cameras to take pictures of the eclipse. They would take that down to the camera shop, get the film developed and then a week later they would be watching and looking at the pictures. Now, we're in a very different type of circumstance," Ted Creech, the AT&T South Carolina Director of External Affairs explained.

Today, people are able to share their experiences instantly. That's what we're expecting people will do the weekend of the total solar eclipse, coming up August 21.

"For many, many months we've been planning for this event and the fact that we will have many more people in the Columbia area to watch the eclipse," Creech said.

With thousands of visitors expected, some fear this could jam up cell phone towers and limit coverage, but AT&T says they've got you covered.

"We have updated and enhanced and expanded the capacity of 20-some cell sites in the Columbia area," Creech said.

This added capacity will allow more people to use their cell phones in high trafficked areas such as the Riverfront Park, Finlay Park, South Carolina State Museum where the planetarium is, and the University of South Carolina.

But in the case that you do encounter a disruption, "Text messaging. Text messages take up the least amount of band width or capacity on the wireless network and those messages go through faster. Those kinds of things take the greatest amount of network resources," Creech said.

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