Why Isn't There Ever Cell Service at Festivals?
Phone companies lack the bandwidth needed to support crowds.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 27th, 2012
hink about the last time you were in a highly-populated area. We don't mean in the city—we mean the times when you've been around so many people that you can't call your friends to find them or send out a text message. You've got full bars on your phone, but for some reason, no service. It happens every time there's a big festival or concert, and you'd think by now that the companies would have this figured out, but no. We think it's time they set something up.
It's 2012, and with all of the technology that exists, it seems it would be simple for cell carriers to offer some sort of remedy for clogged lines. And they do--just not for most events that we all attend. Cell--on-Wheels, or COWs, are typically used more for emergency situations. For example, they were set up after September 11, 2001 in Manhattan to help keep up with the damand.
But instead of just offering a one-size-fits-all service, perhaps they could set up portable, temporary cell towers so that people could actually use the data plans they've paid for. Or maybe they could offer a premium service that users who wanted to pay a little extra for could fund—for example, offering a temporary service where, for an extra $5 or $10 (a one-time fee), customers could have access to an un-crowded cell tower line.
Cell carriers may have a hard time keeping up with demand thanks to already-allocated usage--for example, they may be at the cap of their offerings for the 4G network. In that case, customers are out of luck.
We know we're not the only ones who have noticed that there is a problem. On Yelp, there are reviews of music festivals and throngs of the reviews state how bad the cell service is.
Unfortunately, we have to wonder if there even is a way to really fix this—carriers may be able to bring micro-cell sites to set up at densely-populated events, but it seems that cellular frequencies cannot be perfectly reused—in simpler terms, just because a company like AT&T might bring extra sites for cell service to be provided from, the service is often locked into certain networks (for example, the 4G network), and thus can't be transferred to anyone else that isn't using 4G. But even with Cell-on-Wheels, will companies choose to bring the technology to the places where it's needed?
Until companies can figure out a way to make their service useful in times of high traffic, we'll just have to stick to our usual method of establishing contact with our friends—setting up a meeting point and hoping for the best.