JACKSON, Wyo. — The Teton County emergency manager is concerned about cellphone service during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse because of the thousands of extra visitors expected in the Jackson Hole region in northwest Wyoming.
“We already see a lot of stress in the public cellphone network even without a major crowd,” county emergency coordinator Rich Ochs said. “With a surge of folks coming to Teton County for what could potentially be one of the most documented events in history, with everybody trying to livestream it and upload pictures online all at the same time, there are major concerns for overloading the system.”
People unable to connect to the system during an emergency will be able to text 911, Ochs said.
“It’s always preferred to make a voice call,” he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/2vo4Egl ). “There are signals dispatchers can take from the tone of your voice and background noise, and it’s easier to go back and forth answering questions. But if you cannot make a voice call, texting 911 is a viable option.”
Two cell service companies say they are working to expand service before Aug. 21.
Ochs said that even without thousands of additional people in town, Jackson’s cell service, especially bandwidth for data, lacks.
Travis Griffin, a design manager for Verizon Wireless, told the Jackson Town Council that wireless service drops significantly during the summer months.
Verizon is erecting a new wireless antenna in Jackson that’s expected to be completed before Aug. 21.
“Overloading the system during the solar eclipse is a major concern for us,” Griffin said. “We’re working very hard to get this system online as soon as possible to service that demand and provide a reliable product.”
AT&T is also taking steps to improve service during the eclipse, though it will not be able to construct a whole new antenna in time.
“In advance of the solar eclipse, we’re enhancing our cell sites in and around Jackson by adding capacity to handle increased demand on our network,” said Suzanne Trantow, AT&T’s public relations manager for the Rocky Mountain region.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com