Disorientation

Overloaded Networks Disrupted Boston Cell Service

The cops did not ask carriers to shut it down.
(Photo: Screencap)

(Photo: Screencap)

Whenever something traumatic happens, cell service is almost immediately toast. Everyone reaches for their phone, and networks are overwhelmed.

Today’s events in Boston were no different: Carriers including Sprint and AT&T confirmed to the Boston Globe that customers were likely experiencing problems. Verizon recommended everyone keep all non-emergency communiques to text, to free up capacity, and WiFi worked, too.

But at first, there were questions whether cell phone service might have been shut off, rather than merely swamped.

The AP initially reported that outages were the work of authorities, citing an unnamed law enforcement official who told them that “cellphone service has been shut down in the Boston area to prevent any potential remote detonations of explosives.” Several outlets ran with the story. @YourAnonNews chimed in, of course:

It’s an eerie thought–the cops shutting down the cell phone networks for fear of remotely detonated devices–and one that fits with the kind of edgy, jittery mood such an incident inspires. Nor would this be unprecedented: Back in November, Reuters reports, Pakistan suspended service to protect against attacks during the Muharram processions heavily attended by Shi’ite Muslims.

But, of course, it wasn’t true. The AP has now updated their story with denials from Sprint and Verizon.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com