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City of Seattle urges Seahawks fans to back off cell phone sharing

With tens of thousands converging on CenturyLink Field for Thursday’s Seahawks season opener, the mayor’s office is pleading with people to back off on some of their cell phone sharing.

The city is asking people to delay streaming videos, sharing pictures and other data-intensive activities to help preserve bandwidth on local cell networks so emergency phone calls are assured of getting through.

“We’re expecting 20,000 people to join in the festivities,” said Jeff Reading, communications director for Mayor Ed Murray, in a note to MyNorthwest.com. “The cell networks struggle to keep up with crowds this size. Video is one of the most demanding streams on our cell networks – cutting back on this activity may save some bandwidth, which could help the cell network stay up,” he said.

Carriers have done their best to improve service and expand capacity both inside and outside CenturyLink Field.

Verizon spokesman Scott Charleston said the company added an additional cell site near the stadium in the past year, along with a special dedicated network inside CenturyLink Field and enhanced WiFi to better handle data intensive events.

“It’s for just this kind of situation,” he said. “We’re in really good shape. I am confident that our network will be able to handle it.”

Still, the city doesn’t want to take any chances. While a failed Instagram post is an annoyance, someone unable to get through to 911 quickly could be a matter of life or death.

“We wanted to remind people that it may be better to wait to share their photos, stream videos, and other non-essential mobile conversation to better ensure that emergency phone calls on cell phones can get through,” Reading said.

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