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Industry Insights

Why Cell Phone Networks Fail in Emergencies

April 18, 2013
Author: Brad Stone
Source: BloombergBusinessweek

Toward the bottom of the list of disturbing aspects about Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon was this: Cellular networks in the area almost immediately slowed down and, for periods of time, appeared to stop working altogether. Runners and their loved ones could not connect, and victims had trouble communicating with emergency responders.

That frustrating scene has become familiar, evoking disasters from the Sept. 11th attacks in 2001 to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. We rely on cell phones to run our lives, but they tend to be useless—or at least far from useful—when we need them most.

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