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Holy Moly! Pope's Visit Pops Data Caps

Dan Jones
9/28/2015

The pope's visit to the US last week elevated mobile network usage way beyond normal levels and burned through many terabytes of data, as spectators bombarded social media with pictures and videos of the Pontiff, major carriers report.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) tells Light Reading that during the pope's visit to Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, total data usage on its mobile network was 12.5TB. This is equivalent to 36 million individual social media posts with photos, a spokesman for AT&T says.

AT&T network usage in Philly during the visit was about 7.5 times above that experienced at the Phoenix stadium during this year's Super Bowl.

Verizon Wireless says that traffic was ten times normal levels in Washington D.C. for the start of the pope's visit. In New York, network traffic reached six times normal levels. In Philadelphia, Verizon's mobile network carried nearly 12 times the normal load.


For more on LTE, visit the 4G LTE section here on Light Reading.


"On-the-ground testing by Verizon network engineers demonstrated the company's network performance equaled and generally exceeded that of other networks in all three cities," Verizon said in a statement.

Major US operators spent millions prepping for the pope's visit. Verizon, for instance, says it spent nearly 18 months and $30 million getting ready for a few days of Francis. (See Pope's Visit Could Cause Papal Data Jam for more.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor and Papal Affairs Correspondent, Light Reading

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PaulERainford
PaulERainford
9/29/2015 | 5:07:58 AM
Re: Survived the stress test
I can't believe the pope took precedence over your dance class, Mari. T'ain't right.
Kruz
Kruz
9/28/2015 | 5:57:55 PM
Re: Survived the stress test
@msilbey: Some days, you just can't have it all :)
DanJones
DanJones
9/28/2015 | 4:38:41 PM
Re: Survived the stress test
Yeah.

Apparently they basically closed the transport system of the city of Philadelphia down though!
msilbey
msilbey
9/28/2015 | 3:48:07 PM
Survived the stress test
Remarkably, not only did my cell service not go down during the Pope's visit, but even the DC metro stayed up and running! Sadly, many roads were closed, and my dance class, which just happens to take place across from the Basilica, was shuttered for the day. Still, all in all, a win for infrastructure. 
DanJones
DanJones
9/28/2015 | 1:48:51 PM
Update
I'll update this story with Sprint and T-Mobile's details, when they get back to me. DJ
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