You may have found yourself in a high traffic area, only to realize that regardless of four full bars of service on your cell phone, you aren't able to make calls, send or receive texts, or have your pages load. This is common when a large amount of people are using their phones via the same cell tower due to heavy usage. This can lead to potential slowdowns and dropped calls, and sometime makes it virtually impossible to connect to a network.

There are lots of questions and concerns about how this affect the influx of visitors expected here in Maine for the solar eclipse this Monday, April 8. So first off, this can vary depending on several factors such as the location, the capacity of local cell towers, and the preparations made by cell phone companies.

One would hope that cell phone companies would take appropriate measures to boost capacity temporarily in affected areas when anticipating a large crowd of people. From experiences years back at outdoor music festivals, this measure appeared to not be in place. But luckily for involved, things have since changed.

According to News Center Maine, Governor Mills stated that she predicts anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 people coming to Maine to catch the perfect glimpse of the solar eclipse. They also reached out to four of the biggest nationwide cell phone providers to see how they were planning on handling the influx of visitors. It turns out that US Cellular, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are all taking appropriate measures by preparing their cell towers to handle more capacity.

It's comforting to know that plans are in place, but it doesn't always mean your phone will work flawlessly. If you get service from a different provider and you plan to visit a high traffic area for the eclipse (or any event), it's advisable to reach out to your provider if use of your cell phone is important to you. Also, it can be helpful to have alternative means of communication available, such as using messaging apps that require less bandwidth.

In closing, you may have heard by now that the "hot spot" in Maine for viewing the solar eclipse is Houlton, which is pretty far up in the county. I don't know for certain, but I would expect the cell phone service to be spotty in many of those areas, with or without a large influx of visitors.

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