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How the total solar eclipse will affect your cell service

How the total solar eclipse will affect your cell service

It's going to be a memorable day.

The total solar eclipse on April 8 promises to be jaw-dropping and memorable for anyone who manages to make it into the path of totality, but could it also be a bit disruptive?

Plenty of people will probably be pulling out their smartphones at the moment when the eclipse starts, looking to capture some memories and probably send them on to friends and family pretty quickly.

However, while the eclipse itself will have no effect on cell service at all, the massive rise in demand that will probably crop up around the eclipse will, according to experts.

A generic photo of a total solar eclipse.

Because people will be posting clips and looking up details, and because the path of totality (which spans a huge swathe of the US and Canada) will be crowded with people looking for a glimpse of the eclipse, cell networks could be flooded by more demand than they can manage.

As Caty Pilachowski, a professor of astronomy at the University of Indiana told CNN: "Any location that’s in the center of the path of totality is going to see a significant increase in cellphone usage, particularly during the period and shortly after totality."

This could be familiar to anyone who's tried to load a website or check their Instagram while at a major sporting event or a huge concert.

While, in theory, these cell networks like to boast about their speed and capacity, when there are tens of thousands of people all trying to use them in the same location at the same moment, they often grind to a halt and become incredibly slow.

However, the networks are putting out an aura of confidence before the total solar eclipse, with an AT&T spokesperson telling CNN: "The eclipse itself will have no direct operational impact on our wireless network", while another from Verizon agreed: "We do not expect any impact from the 2024 solar eclipse on the operation of our network".

Some providers are also erecting temporary cell towers specifically aimed at helping ease this spike in demand, tech that you might not have realised they even have. These are called cellular on wheels, and they're clearly handy for dealing with demand like this.

So, if you're setting out to make your way into the path of totality today, or if you're lucky enough to live in it already, you should be able to use your phone as usual, although you probably shouldn't be too surprised if it feels a little slower than you'd expect just around the time of the eclipse itself.

For those of us who live far from the path of totality, it'll be a day that sees a lot of videos and images shared.

Featured Image Credit: Harun Mehmedinovic / 500px / PeopleImages / Getty