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Officials warn of widespread cell phone disruption ahead of solar eclipse

Officials warn of widespread cell phone disruption ahead of solar eclipse

The solar eclipse will be visible in Mexico, the US and Canada

Officials are warning people that April's solar eclipse could cause widespread disruption to cell phones.

Millions of tourists are expected to flock to certain states along the solar eclipse path, which is happening on April 8.

NASA has revealed that the solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

The eclipse is happening on April 8.
Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

Depending on the weather, the first location that will experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast - which will happen at around 11.07am.

The path continues into the US through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

NASA explain that small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also experience the solar eclipse.

The eclipse will then be visible from Canada in Southern Ontario, moving through Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton.

With an expected one million tourists heading to Texas, 500,000 flocking to Indiana and Ohio - where Richland County is - and around 400,000 visiting New York, it's feared that the huge influx of people gathering to watch the eclipse could cause problems with cell connectivity.

Rebecca Owens, who is director of the Richland County Emergency Management Authority (EMA), told the Richland Source: "Cell phone (reception) will be very, very sketchy.

"There will be lots of issues with connectivity and that type of thing."

Back in 2017, AT&T data revealed that there was a 40 per cent increase in text messaging and a 15 per cent increase in voice calls in the 24 hours before the eclipse.

Ulf Ewaldsson, president of technology at T-Mobile, added: "T-Mobile is working hand-in-hand with state and local authorities to address the anticipated surge in network traffic to guarantee seamless connectivity for all."

While Jeff Kew, Great Lakes communication manager for Verizon, believes they're in the all clear, adding that they were 'confident' that the 'additional capacity we have layered into the network over the past few years will accommodate any increases in data usage'.

However, they added they were 'assessing the needs' as they received 'requests for supplemental capacity'.

In Texas, officials are also advising residents to enable Wi-Fi calling just in case there are any cell disruptions.

It's not just the number of people that could impact reception.

Cell reception could be impacted.
Tim Robberts/Getty Images

An article shared on NASA's website states that the eclipse itself could also interfere with connectivity.

"The sudden changes in ionospheric conditions during an eclipse can lead to the formation of ionospheric anomalies, such as ionospheric holes or depletions," the 2023 article explains.

"These anomalies can disrupt radio signals and GPS navigation systems, affecting communication and navigation over the affected regions.

"... The altered ionospheric conditions during an eclipse can change how radio waves propagate through the ionosphere.

"This can cause signal fading, absorption, and refraction, affecting shortwave and satellite communication systems."

Featured Image Credit: John finney photography/Getty/Tim Robberts/Getty

Topics: News, US News, NASA, Space