Inauguration Wireless
AP
Million Hundessa, lead team technician for Sprint, left, and Ken Deatrick, a radio frequency technician for Sprint, add capacity to a cell site in preparation for next month's presidential inauguration.
updated 12/16/2008 7:05:51 PM ET 2008-12-17T00:05:51

Going to the inauguration next month? Planning to send a photo from your cell phone to your friends back home at the moment Barack Obama takes the oath of office?

The nation's wireless providers hope you'll reconsider.

Providers are boosting capacity in and around the National Mall to try to meet the demand of a crowd that is expected to exceed 1 million and may be much higher. But the industry warns that some dropped calls and delayed transmissions will be inevitable.

"If 4 million people show up on the Mall, absolutely expect delays," said Joseph E. Farren, a spokesman for CTIA, which represents the wireless industry.

Sprint said Tuesday that it plans to increase wireless capacity by 40 percent for cellular service and 90 percent for its walkie-talkie like feature. T-Mobile's preparations exceed those of any single-day event in the company's history, according to company spokesman Peter Dobrow.

Verizon Wireless, a big local player, referred questions to the industry association.

CTIA is suggesting that people avoid sending videos and photos from the scene, and send text messages instead of phone calls when possible to place less strain on the network.

While tourists may encounter some difficulties, wireless providers say they are taking steps to ensure that emergency personnel will have no service disruptions.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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