Why Cell Networks Cut Out at the US Capitol Riot

As the mob descended on the US Capitol complex yesterday, did law enforcement jam cell signals to thwart communication? No, the networks were probably just overwhelmed. Here’s why.

By Sascha Segan | PCMag.com | January 7, 2021

The riot in Washington, D.C. yesterday made clear the limits of 4G technology, and led to a few relatively reasonable conspiracy theories. As mobs stormed the US Capitol, plenty of people nearby reported their phones having no signal or non-functional connections.

The cops’ phones all keep working because they’re on a special part of the AT&T network called FirstNet, which gives priority to first responders. Heavy FirstNet usage would slightly reduce civilian device capacity at that location, though, because FirstNet comes first.

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