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Even though Obama’s 2013 Inauguration greeted only 900,000 people compared to the 1.6 million four years ago, wireless carriers experienced such a surge in data usage on the DC Mall that communication failures abounded. The result: many calls, tweets, texts, and emails failed to get through. In the 12 years since the 9/11attacks a lot has been done to fix communications problems. However, the prevalence of wireless data devices is increasing so fast that carriers struggle, and often fail, to keep up with demand for wireless bandwidth.

Commercial carriers are trying to keep up with demand but the thirst for wireless data is outpacing network capacity. AT&T reportedly spent more than $815 million upgrading its networks in the Washington, DC area since the 2009 inauguration. That is an incredible amount of money but not when compared to the $7 billion approved to expand 4G LTE across the entire United States with FirstNet, the newly approved network that over 20,000 military, police and medical personnel will likely be using at the next inauguration.

The problem is bigger than a failed tweet, text, or call. FirstNet, (now being rolled out nationwide, starting in Harris County, TX)  relies on the same commercial cellular network that just failed!  What if someone in the crowd had a gun, or a bomb, or was having a heart attack? No one could get a call out to First Responders because the 900,000 people on the mall were using the same network. Thankfully, the weather and the people cooperated on Inauguration Day. Had any event from a shooting to bad weather been experienced, chaos would have erupted. I cringe to think of the pandemonium a combination of a million people in a highly concentrated area would experience with a complete communications failure.

If Americans are to rely on commercial carriers for 4G LTE for their personal, business, and emergency communications systems, they are headed for more disappointment, or worse.

Mission Mobility is taking on the challenge of reliable interoperable communications with a line of solutions, which have been proven from boardrooms to battlefields. We connect people and organizations whenever and wherever they may be. 

-Andy Young

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