By Mark Davenport
Jan 15, 2013

Inauguration of a New Era (in Mobile)

Biking to work along the National Mall, I get the opportunity in the mornings to appreciate a landscape of sculptures, beautiful architecture and century-old trees. This week, a new part of the scenery struck me—temporary cell towers. They've sprung up on every block—sometimes more than one—in anticipation of 500,000+ people attending the inauguration on January 21st.

While we see statistics every day about the amazing growth of mobile (Cory put some usage stats, as well as information about Obama's deadline for government sites to become mobile friendly in "Put Mobile First."), noticing these towers was a small moment that brought it to life for me. Four years ago, standing in the freezing cold with 1.3 million of my closest friends, I could barely get a signal for a phone call, let alone try to stream video of the barely visible new president a mile away at the Capitol. I gave up and put my phone away, trying to ignore the claustrophobic sensation of being unable to move or see much beyond the endless sea of heads around me.

From the looks of the towers, on January 21st, the mall will likely be the densest spot of mobile bandwidth on the planet. And my bet is it will not be enough, with photos and videos soaring from nearly every visitor as iCloud backups or Facebook posts or text messages. I'll be happy if at least my phone works for safety and organizing with friends. I can save the posting for later.

But it's clear that planning for bandwidth is a more important consideration for organizers than it has ever been. And when they swear in Hillary in 2017 (ahem), it may even be as important as having enough port-a-johns.

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