Will the total solar eclipse break the internet?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The epic total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will stretch from South Carolina to Oregon, and Tennessee is right in its path.

It’s being called the largest astronomical event in American history.

So is it going to break the internet when everyone tries to stream it or post pictures online?

You’ve probably experienced problems before while using your cell phone or mobile device at a large event. When lots of people are all on their phones, trying to do the same thing, cell phone towers can only do so much.RELATED: Total solar eclipse events across Tennessee, Kentucky

Many cell providers are trying to increase their coverage in certain areas for the eclipse, but some warn there will be times when the network will struggle-like during the peak of the eclipse.

“We have lots of things, whether it be football games, or tournaments, or races, where it’s a big event, so the service providers have to be able to handle all the extra traffic,” said Mike Rogers, a computer science professor at Tennessee Tech.

“Now, the question is, though, this is pretty big. This is an eclipse they’re going to see all across the country. And so you’re going to have this happening in normal places where there isn’t much traffic at all. Small towns there may be 20, 20, 40, 60,000 people. What happens when you are in areas like that and all of a sudden the traffic doubles, or triples, or quadruples? Can they handle that?” Rogers questioned.RELATED: NASA says unsafe eclipse glasses being distributed

There is some hope for those rural areas. One example is in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where AT&T said it plans to boost their service.

“We are going to increase our capacity an average of about 160 percent with eight cell sites on wheels, one ‘Colt’ (small cell site a truck) in that area of totality. And in Hopkinsville alone with our ‘Mega-Cow,’ which is a mega cell site on wheels, we are going to increase that network by 300 percent. So we’re ready,” explained Cathy Lewandowski with AT&T.

“Throughout the rest of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, AT&T has been investing heavily in increasing the capacity of our networks. So users throughout Middle Tennessee and Kentucky should hopefully not have any problems,” added an AT&T engineer, Toby Cooper.

And that’s just cell data, but what about the internet itself?

News 2 was told companies like Amazon and eBay, who have a lot of extra equipment not being used during their non-peak sales times, actually sell services to many internet providers. We’ll find out who’s prepared and keep you posted.

While the eclipse begins at 11 a.m., it will reach totality around 1:28 p.m., making the sky go dark for upwards of 3 minutes, depending on where you live. When will it reach your house and how long will it last? Find the answer here.

Visit wkrn.com/eclipse for all the resources and information you need.

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