UPDATE: Wireless Companies Say Cell Service in Boston Was Not Shut Down

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 15 2013 5:30 PM

UPDATE: Wireless Companies Say Cell Service in Boston Was Not Shut Down

bomb squad investigation
A member of the bomb squad investigates a suspicious item on the road near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Mass.

Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

UPDATE, Monday, April 15, 6:08 p.m.: Wireless carriers say reports that authorities had shut down cellphone service in the Boston area are untrue.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

"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.

For people who cannot get through to their loved ones, the links at the bottom of this post may still prove useful.

Original post: In the aftermath of Monday's explosions, cellphone service went down in many parts of the Boston area, prompting widespread speculation that the local wireless networks were overloaded. But the Associated Press is reporting that authorities shut down the service on purpose, "to prevent any potential remote detonations of explosives." So far the AP is citing only a single anonymous "law enforcement official," who told the reporter that he couldn't speak on record because the investigation was ongoing.

The word on Twitter was that data and text service were still working, at least for some. If you're trying to track down a friend or relative who was at the race, alternatives include:

*Corrected link: This link initially pointed to the Boston Marathon site. It now points to the Person Finder site.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.


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