Wireless Carriers Boosting Service Ahead Of Solar Eclipse

Aug 1, 2017

General Dynamics Mission Systems Deployable 4G LTE Cell on Wheels (COW) parked outside of the New Mexico State Fair.
Credit Morganoshell (Own work) / Wikimedia Commons

Wireless service providers across Wyoming are expanding capacity and placing limits on data usage in anticipation of the August 21 total solar eclipse. There is the potential for an influx of hundreds of thousands of people to the state for the solar event, meaning some carriers could be slowed by the demand.

AT&T will be sending a Cell on Wheels, or COW, to the Glendo Reservoir in eastern Wyoming. Suzanne Trantow, a spokeswoman for AT&T in the Rocky Mountain Region, said the COW will provide extra LTE coverage, and is expected to boost network capacity at the reservoir by 160 percent.

“In Wyoming, we’re only bringing out one of these temporary cell sites. It’s one of nine across the country because we’re pretty confident that our Wyoming network will handle this influx in cellular traffic,” said Trantow.

In the last few years, Trantow said AT&T’s network has already been enhanced in the state, and in Casper, they recently doubled capacity.

“Doubling capacity is like adding lanes on a highway. The cars can go faster because it’s not as congested. There’s not as much traffic,” she said.

John Woody, CEO of Union Wireless, said his company will likely expand some service, but also impose load controls.

“Which will tend to lower the amount of data any one individual can have in order to give more people on the site a reasonable grade of service,” Woody said.

Woody also says that 911 calls will have priority over other calls.