MIAMI — Don't be surprised if that text message wishing mom a Happy New Year isn't delivered until well into 2011, or doesn't make it on the first try -- especially if you're in a crowded area like South Beach's Ocean Drive or downtown Fort Lauderdale.
At the stroke of midnight, two million or more South Floridians -- at least twice as many as last year -- will be typing on their phones at a time when many are kissing a loved one.
At midnight on New Year's Eve, Verizon, Sprint and other carriers expect to deal with a deluge of texts and calls -- possibly triple the amount from a minute earlier. Carriers won't reveal exact numbers, citing concerns about their competition.
"South Beach, Disney, those cell sites are going to get a massive whack,'' said Verizon spokesman Chuck Hamby.
Put simply, the current technology isn't designed to flawlessly handle everyone sending a text message at the same time, despite continual improvements. It isn't easy to keep up with the growing demand for bandwidth in a smartphone-armed society. ``If money was no object . . . there still would be customers who would not get all their text messages precisely at 12:01 on New Year's Day,'' said Sprint spokesman John Taylor.
Carriers say they're prepared for the deluge of messages, but say it's more likely that delays will happen for messages that travel between different carriers, rather than between two people under the same network.
For big events such as a Super Bowl or a hurricane, carriers typically deploy extra mobile cell sites to handle the demands. That's not seen as necessary for a 10-minute burst of messages, as is expected when the New Year arrives.
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