Cell Phone Disruption Caused by Network Overload, Not Police or Homeland Security Measures


April 15 (Bloomberg) — Bloomberg interview with Richard Falkenrath, former White House Homeland Security Advisor and NYPD Deputy Commissioner, explaining that incorrect information is common during incidents similar to the Boston Marathon bomb attacks.

In the midst of the Boston Marathon bombing attack and aftermath, some media reports stated that cell phone service was shut down to prevent remote cell phone detonation of any undiscovered bombs — as a security measure.

Cellphones are known to be used to detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Middle East. The trigger for a radio-controlled IED is controlled by the radio link established by devices such as cellphones.

Police officials and the wireless companies are reporting the cell phone service providers were not asked to turn off cellular service. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless were actually working to augment cellular voice service in the area.

Also AT&T and Sprint requested that customers in Boston use text messages to communicate rather than call to free up lines for emergency personnel.

AT&T announced that it would extend the period of time that its temporary Wi-Fi would be setup for the Boston Marathon. AT&T provided free Wi-Fi to its customers at the start line of the 117th Boston Marathon in Hopkinton and at the finish line on Boylston Street. AT&T, the Official Wireless Provider of the 117th Boston Marathon, offered other free features to help athletes and spectators experience the 2013 Boston Marathon. With AT&T Athlete Alert, Marathon fans who wanted to track the progress of their friends and family, or their favorite elite runner, could get updates sent to their mobile phone or email, in real-time.

“Boston customers may have issues w/wireless voice & data service due to spike in network activity. Our Wi-Fi remains on at #BostonMarathon.”

— AT&T on Twitter

Two powerful bombs killed three people and injured over 140 people near the finish of the Boston Marathon at about 2:50 p.m. Monday.

“Verizon Wireless has been enhancing network voice capacity to enable additional calling in the Copley Square area of Boston. Customers are advised to use text or email to free up voice capacity for public safety officials at the scene. There was no damage to the Verizon Wireless network, which is seeing elevated calling and data usage throughout the region since the explosions occurred.”

— Verizon Wireless

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