11.9.01

Boston Marathon Bombing: Cell Phone Service Was Not “Shut Down”

In Other Terrorist Events on April 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

After the Boston Marathon bombing, there were news reports that cell phones were “shut down.”  A typical sentence:

Cell phone service was shut down in the area, the AP reported, to prevent any remote detonations.

But multiple cell phone companies say that while traffic was high, service was not interrupted, especially not by U.S. government request:

Wireless carriers say reports that authorities had shut down cellphone service in the Boston area are untrue.

“Verizon Wireless has not been asked by any government agency to turn down its wireless service,” Verizon spokesman Thomas Pica told me via email. “Any reports to that effect are inaccurate.”

The AP, which initially reported that the networks had been shut down, has walked back that claim in an updated report. “Minus some mild call blocking on our Boston network due to increased traffic, our service is operating normally,” Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis told the AP.

The New York Post still carries the “story,” but only in a headline (there is no text):

Cell phone service shut down in Boston to prevent remote detonations: report
Last Updated: 5:03 PM, April 15, 2013
Posted: 5:02 PM, April 15, 2013

Some Boston websites are not operating, and the LATimes has this confusing information, mixing the story that cell phones were shut down, yet Verizon and Sprint say they were not:

Following at least two explosions during the Boston Marathon, many websites in the area have gone offline and the Associated Press is reporting that the city is shutting down cellphone service to prevent use of the device to trigger a bomb.

Verizon said it has not been asked by government officials to shut off cellphone service. Meanwhile, Sprint said it did not turn off its cell phone service either, but it recommends people use text messages instead of phone calls as they have more of a chance of getting through.]

According to reports, two explosions went off at the finish line for the Boston Marathon, injuring dozens of people and killing at least two. That’s causing many to check websites for the city, resulting in Internet traffic jams that are bringing down the sites.

At the time of this writing, the Boston Globe’s website was down, which has forced the newspaper to turn to its Twitter account to report news to readers. Boston.com is also having issues, as is CityOfBoston.gov. Some on Twitter said earlier the Boston Herald’s website was down, but it appears to be up though it is running noticeably slower. That’s also the case for the website of the Boston Athletic Assn., which organized the Boston Marathon.

The Red Cross’ SafeAndWell.org website, which is used during disasters and emergency situations to help connect people, is also having a hard time loading. Anne Marie Borrego, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross, said the website is having a hard time working right now but said users should keep trying it.

“When you have a site that’s inundated, it’s just going to take some time,” she said. “Just keep checking back.”

The Hill reports that the FCC is not aware of a shut down:

The Associated Press initially reported that Boston police shut down cellphone service to prevent a remote detonation, but a police department spokesman denied the report.

A Federal Communications Commission official said the agency isn’t aware of any shut downs.

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