East Coast Earthquake Creates Major Cell Service Disruptions

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Cellular service along the East Coast was disrupted following the Aug. 23 earthquake that struck south of Washington, industry representatives confirmed.

Officials from Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp., and T-Mobile USA reported no major structural damage to cell towers or wires following the magnitude 5.8 temblor, but with millions of people attempting to call friends, family and colleagues, networks were quickly overwhelmed by the traffic, resulting in dropped calls and lost signals.

Service was disrupted particularly in major cities, such as New York and Washington, but consumers were able to send and receive text messages and e-mail, albeit at a slower speed due to the sudden spike in traffic.

“The industry's infrastructure appears to be intact, but because many wireless consumers are using the networks, we are experiencing higher than normal traffic,” CTIA-The Wireless Association said in a statement. “In these high volume instances, there can be delays. We encourage people to send text messages and emails to contact their loved ones until volume returns to normal.”

By Paul Barbagallo

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