WASHINGTON -- Many people who attended President Obama's first Inauguration in 2009 or 2010's Rally to Restore Sanity hosted by Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert on the National Mall can attest how certain monumental events in the nation's capital can lead to less-than-desirable cellphone service.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies is trying to ensure that President Obama's Jan. 21 Inauguration will be equipped with ample towers to ensure better mobile service for the ceremonies.
Although Obama's second inaugural festivities are expected to draw far smaller crowds than the 2009 event the events are anticipated to draw a higher percentage of people with smartphones and tablets, requiring more bandwidth than ever before.
The Washington Post reports that the Mall will be better equipped this year.
“Last time around, the sheer number of people . . . overloaded the system and many cellphones in the crowd just couldn’t get a signal,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said in a statement.
“We don’t want that to happen again,” he said. “The inauguration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience . . . so we’re putting measures in place to make sure people can call, tweet, Facebook and document their experience on smartphones and social media.”
According to the Post, at least nine temporary cellphone towers have been erected near the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the World War II National Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National Gallery of Art and at other locations along the National Mall.
WAMU-FM reports cellphone companies are expanding their temporary coverage.
Representatives at AT&T, which only had a couple of towers in the area back in 2009, reports the company will have nine temporary cell towers running the length of the mall and others along the parade route.
Officials from Sprint say they're erecting three temporary towers around the mall and deploying another system to help with emergency communications.