WASHINGTON — When President Obama takes the stage to deliver his inauguration address Jan. 20, no doubt many of the estimated 2 million people in the audience will hold their cellphones aloft to snap and send photos, call friends and family and send text messages like "omg, yes we did!"
Please don't, wireless network operators say.
For months, the carriers have been preparing for a predicted explosion of cellphone traffic during inauguration weekend. Wireless operators say they are boosting capacity but still expect some hiccups.
"You can add hundreds of thousands of lanes to a highway, but if millions of people go for a drive at the same time, you can still have a jam," said John Johnson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless. "There are just so many unknowns."
It will be the first inauguration in which cellphones are so ubiquitous.
Since the 2005 inauguration, the number of cellphone users in the nation has increased by 26%, to 262.7 million. And those users are not just talking: They are posting video to social networking sites such as Facebook, sending text messages, and snapping and sending photos.