Cell Service During Papal Visit: What You Need to Know
With just a few days to go before Pope Francis arrives for his visit to the region, some cell service providers are taking steps to make sure customers' calls aren't dropped and services isn't compromised this weekend.
Millions of visitors will gather in the Philadelphia area Sunday to hear Pope Francis as he says mass or just to catch a glimpse of the pontiff when he arrives. In advance of the papal visit, many technology upgrades are taking place, especially at the venues in and around where the pope is scheduled to appear.
6ABC reports that cell phone providers have invested millions of dollars to upgrade their cell phone systems in Center City, which is part of Philly. Permanent towers have been upgraded and temporary mini-towers were installed to boost cell capacity.
On its website, Verizon Wireless states that the company has "invested $1.6 billion since 2014 in the regions where Pope Francis will visit, building new cell sites, boosting capacity on existing sites and activating small cells."
According to Philly.com, "T-Mobile and Sprint also have boosted wireless capacity to maximize cellular spectrum for what officials in the industry say will be a 'mass calling event' similar to halftime at the Super Bowl, a presidential inauguration in Washington, or midnight on New Year's Eve in Times Square."
Despite all of the upgrades, there is still some fear that networks will be strained when customers begin using data texting, sending pictures and uploading videos. The following tips provided by an AT&T technician to Patch.com have been offered to cell customers planning to be in attendance during the papal visit:
- Text, don't call - it uses less bandwidth;
- Save pics and videos and wait to send them until you're out of the crowd;
- Use Wi-Fi hotspots whenever possible; and
- Make sure your device is fully charged and bring an extra battery or portable charger.