With record-breaking numbers of people expected in the district this weekend, excessive cell phone usage will place additional strain on cell phone networks in the area. This may result in delays in the sending and receiving of text messages, along with difficulty finding adequate cell phone reception to complete calls.

According to an article in The Washington Post, cell phone carriers such as Sprint Nextel, Verizon and AT&T have spent millions of dollars to bolster existing networks by adding portable towers and expanding bandwidth availability on current towers in an effort to reduce the loss of cell phone service. The focus has been on areas around the National Mall and Metro lines. According to The Washington Post, these precautions should be enough to prevent any major problems as long as cell phone users do not make excessive calls or send e-mails and photos.

Service providers are encouraging people to send text messages whenever possible because they are smallest and will get through the cell phone traffic fastest without clogging the network. As an extra precaution, calls that will be placed between the phones of emergency services personnel will be given priority over regular cell phone calls, as will calls to 911, according to The Washington Post.

University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that Georgetown Emergency Response Teams and other employees are prepared to handle possible communication problems.

“We have the capability for members of our emergency response team to communicate not only via cell phone but also landline, virtually via Internet connectivity and also satellite phones,” Bataille said. “In addition, our building and floor marshals, along with members of the [emergency response team], regularly receive training to use walkie-talkies to communicate.”

University employees and emergency response teams will also use a variety of providers for cell phone service, allowing for a greater probability of getting calls through, Bataille said.

Some students planning on attending the inauguration are devising strategies prior to the inauguration in order to avoid communication problems.

“If a student gets separated from the group they came with, it might be almost impossible to find them,” Catherine Myendorff (SFS ’11) said. “We are going to make sure before we leave for the Mall that we know a specific place to meet in case we lose someone.”

Communication concerns, however, do not seem to be worrying all Georgetown students.

“My friends and I have talked about sticking together, and not wandering about alone, so I’m not worried about safety,” Deirdre Cosgrove (COL ’11) said. “If anything were to happen, I trust the police and other agencies are prepared to keep everyone safe.”

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