Why Cell Phone Networks Fail in Emergencies

A runner uses his phone following the explosion of two bombs during the 117th Boston Marathon Photograph by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Toward the bottom of the list of disturbing aspects about Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon was this: Cellular networks in the area almost immediately slowed down and, for periods of time, appeared to stop working altogether. Runners and their loved ones could not connect, and victims had trouble communicating with emergency responders.

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