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Communications Space Network The Internet Technology

August Solar Eclipse Could Disrupt Roads and Cellular Networks 95

GeoGreg writes: On August 21, 2017, the contiguous United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979. According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com's Michael Zeiler, approximately 200 million people live within one day's drive of the eclipse. Zeiler projects that between 1.85 to 7.4 million people will attempt to visit the path of totality. As the eclipse approaches, articles are appearing predicting the possibility of automobile traffic jamming rural roads. There is also concern about the ability of rural cellular networks to handle such a large influx. AT&T is bringing in Cell On Wheel (COW) systems to rural locations in Kentucky, Idaho, and Oregon, while Verizon is building a temporary tower in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The disruption could be frustrating to those trying to get to the eclipse or share their photos via social networking. If cellular networks can't handle the data, apps like Waze won't be much help in avoiding the traffic. If communication is essential near the eclipse path, Astronomy Magazine recommends renting a satellite phone.
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August Solar Eclipse Could Disrupt Roads and Cellular Networks

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  • You know, take a photo and share it on instagram later?

    Maybe not everything is a crisis.

    • One eclipse photo is going to look like every other eclipse photo. None of them are anything like the real experience.

  • Nice headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @02:24AM (#54703163)

    So to be clear (since not everyone reads even the summary), the eclipse itself is not affecting roads or cellular networks at all - as any reasonable person would already understand. The headline simply refers to the possibility that rural cell networks might get overwhelmed by the surge in traffic.

    So no different, really, than any other large rural gathering... except possibly in scale.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Telcos upgrade their networks due to more people using network :)
    • A bit like Burning Man, then? I think we should bring in Bennett Haselton on this one. From ice to parking, he's got that sorted.

    • Iowa tests this every summer with their RAGBRAI event. It's interesting what happens.

      Picture: 10k to 20k people descending on rurual, towns with a standing population of often less than 5k. What happens is this:

      5am: Full 4G signal, roughly as fast as any other day. Voice calls are normal.
      6am: Email still sort of loads, forget streaming anything. Voice calls are normal.
      6:30am: Voice is getting sketchy.
      8am: Forget it. Data is shot, Voice might connect.
      8:33am: Voice works again
      8:40: Voice is shot a
    • I am afraid that this will create a problem even largere than Y2K.

  • by darkain ( 749283 )

    Have you ever gone to any of the PAX conventions? It'll be just like that (in terms of technical infrastructure usage)

  • So what (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @03:50AM (#54703363) Homepage
    A few million dumbfucks won't be able to use their phones for a few minutes/hours. This is a disaster scenario that companies are planning for well in advance? If you are so important that you can't be missed for a few hours while you go to see an eclipse obviously you shouldn't be going at all.
    • Re:So what (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @06:39AM (#54703783)

      If you are so important that you can't be missed

      Who said can't be missed? The summary says unable to handle cell traffic. That implies potential issues with contacting emergency services as well. It also gives example of data related issues which may have noting at all to do with the eclipse or people who may not be interested in watching them.

      Some people have different needs than you do. I'm glad to see companies planning ahead rather than taking the "fuck customers" approach you are advocating. Do you by any chance work for an ISP?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I guess it's less of an issue in the US, but in Japan where they have regular natural disasters the networks are prepared for this. They have a lot of public wifi to back it up, and the normally commercial paid networks automatically switch to free mode in the event of a major earthquake etc. Even the vending machines often have a wifi AP that activates, and if the situation is on-going can switch to free-vend mode.

      I was there in March 2011, and was able to send email within a couple of minutes of the big o

    • Not that simple. Every one assumes the reliability of these communications network and design systems around it.

      I am closing on a home on Friday. I got some paperwork from mortgage lender on Tuesday at around 1 PM, with a voice mail saying, I need to sign it electronically before midnight, else we miss the closing deadline. 11 hour window? It is a half mill deal, 10K security deposit. Seller has another closing lined up contingent on this sale going through, that is another half mill deal most likely. It i

    • If you have a heart attack - you will appreciate the effort they are making to ensure communications. It's not about convenience - it's about liability.

      A few million dumbfucks won't be able to use their phones for a few minutes/hours. This is a disaster scenario that companies are planning for well in advance? If you are so important that you can't be missed for a few hours while you go to see an eclipse obviously you shouldn't be going at all.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

      won't be able to use their phones for a few minutes/hours.

      perhaps this means they can experience the moment of a total eclipse. See how all of sudden it gets very dark, feel temperature of air cool down, see this distinct bright thing in the sky (use proper viewing goggles), notice a band of brightness along the horizon. Put away the stupid phone and seize the moment. Next time it happens in America, you will be worm food.

  • by Coisiche ( 2000870 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @04:21AM (#54703445)

    The only total eclipse I've seen was in Turkey in 2006. Only 11 years ago. I didn't have a smartphone then. All I was interested in was taking photos with my camera and just looking all around to take in the moment (as an aside if you're going to see this one and have never seen a total eclipse before then make sure you do a 360 look at the horizon during totality; worth it). I just didn't feel any need to tell anyone else about it there and then. Other people got to see the photos several days later when I returned to the UK.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Times sure do change; Turkey was almost a free country back then.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @05:02AM (#54703515)

    1. Get a nice sound system and a big tent. Head down to the southern US and hold a revival meeting.

    2. Claim The Lord is going to put out the Sun if they don't pray hard and give me a lot of money.

    3. Profit!

  • So, this is a bit like the aftermath of a large college football game in a rural town?

  • On August 21, 2017, the contiguous United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979.

    Solar eclipse of May 10, 1994 I went and saw it in St Louis. How do they define contiguous U.S.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That was an annular solar eclipse and not a total solar eclipse. Contiguous is defined as usual.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @06:24AM (#54703729) Journal

    ...how we ever managed to enjoy eclipses before cell phones and the internet?

    It couldn't even have been possible, could it?

  • Is this a Captain Obvious commercial?
  • Where they point their cell phone cameras at the sun, then can't figure out why they STOPPED WORKING.
  • Everyone will be trying to share their photo of the exact same thing all at once over LTE or 4G.

    This makes a lot of sense.

    No. Wait. It doesn't.

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