The first rule of eclipse is: you do not tweet about eclipse during eclipse. Just marvel at the eclipse. The moon will be blocking out the sun and turning day to night. It’s rare. Experience it. The second rule of eclipse is: you do not tweet during the eclipse.
Third rule of eclipse is that if you must share your thoughts, pictures or videos of the eclipse to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or wherever, you’ll not be alone. Americans will be migrating to a strip of the country that cuts from Oregon to South Carolina. It’ll be crowded in areas that aren’t used to crowds.
The major cell companies say they’re ready. You shouldn’t have problems connecting.
The wireless carriers insist they can handle the onslaught of excited calls, texts, tweets and whatnot sure to spring from, and near, the path of totality. They boast of network improvements in recent years to handle the data traffic spewing from phones. In some places expected to draw especially large throngs, like St. Joseph, they’re deploying more bandwidth.
“We definitely think there will be a spike in activity in areas along the path of the eclipse,” said Adrienne Norton, a Sprint spokeswoman. “People will be excited to share what they’re seeing.”
Sprint, for instance, promises more capacity in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and St. Joseph. It will largely use existing cell towers and boost their ability to move data.
Around St. Joseph, for instance, the Overland Park-based carrier will add the ability to move signals over an added spectrum, 2.5 GHz, that can move large amounts of data quickly. That meant adding new radios, antennas and cables to the cell sites in the area. Long after the moon, sun and St. Joseph are lined up, that added mobile signal strength will remain.
Verizon, the country’s largest carrier, calls Monday “a once in a lifetime occurrence that spans across the entire nation and is not a normal network day.”
For the most part, a company spokeswoman said in an email, overall network improvement in recent years makes deploying mobile cell towers to great congregations “largely unnecessary.” Verizon plans on sending mobile cells to handle a crush of traffic expected in parts of Oregon and Kentucky. Beyond that, the company’s email said, it will monitor traffic in various areas before the eclipse to decide if it needs more mobile firepower in other places.
AT&T, the second largest carrier, says it will deploy nine cell-on-wheels units, or COWs, across the country, including the Missouri cities of Columbia, Washington and Owensville. It expects those mobile transmitters to boost capacity by 160 percent in those areas.
T-Mobile, third among the carriers, says it also will boost capacity along the path of the eclipse.
The Sprint spokeswoman said that most areas that have decent coverage during normal times should handle eclipse-level traffic, and those that usually have spotty service will remain iffy.
“We think it’ll be pretty normal,” Norton said.
But think about texting rather than making voice calls, which could be more subject to drops in an overloaded area of sky-bent heads.