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Cellphone towers erected for inauguration on National Mall

Saturday - 1/5/2013, 12:39pm  ET

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There may be fewer people on the Mall for the president's second inauguration compared to the first, but this year's crowd may be better able to make calls from their cellphones.

An estimated 1.8 million people crowded the National Mall four years ago. There was so much cellphone traffic it was almost impossible to make a call, send a text or email a picture.

Planners are hoping to fix that this time around. The Washington Post reports nine temporary cell towers have been erected so far, tucked in near the monuments and museums. There were only a couple of extra towers brought in for the president's first inauguration.

Although inauguration organizers predict smaller crowds than those who attended four years ago, there are now more smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices that could contribute to a cellphone overload.

It's not just on the Mall where the cell communications network is being beefed up, either. Repeaters, which amplify cellphone signals, have been installed in some of the big hotels.

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