9/11 -- St. Petersburg Times Special Report

Sunday, Sept. 1
  • Florida: Terror's launching pad
  • The 19 plotters and their day of terror
  • Remembering

    Monday, Sept. 2
  • When tragedy meets capitalism
  • '9/11 fatigue' is natural, mental health experts say

    Tuesday, Sept. 3
  • Coping as a kid
  • Eric Deggans: 9/11 documentary asks troubling questions about religion
  • Sept. 11 photograph exhibit opens

    Wednesday, Sept. 4
  • Millions in new funding don't guarantee security
  • Donations to local charities slow in months after attacks
  • Sept. 11 donations swamp charities
  • Bush to visit three attack sites on 9/11

    Thursday, Sept. 5
  • Attack anniversary is living history lesson
  • Trading fallback system improved
  • Future of site still beset by debate

    Friday, Sept. 6
  • Senate approves plan to allow armed pilots
  • Dream job becoming demoralizing
  • New plane doors would withstand gunfire
  • What ever happened to ... Those patriotic paint jobs?
  • The other 911
  • Consolidated for the cause

    Saturday, Sept. 7
  • In chaos, TIA tower controlled 9/11 skies
  • Congress, N.Y. reaffirm solidarity
  • Traveling can be nicer in rougher countries
  • For TIA workers, 'normal' not what it used to be
  • Airlines don't see relief over horizon
  • Terror only one blow to tourism
  • A year later, it's the home fires that burn brightly
  • Flying the flag

    Sunday, Sept. 8
  • 125 Cedar Street
  • The drama in Sarasota
  • Cautious, yes, but still traveling
  • As security increases, fervor fades
  • Rising risks
  • Finding lessons in rubble of tragedy
  • Public loss, private grief
  • Duty calls; he goes; they wait
  • Riled residents show true colors
  • Keeping her distance
  • Which way leads up?
  • For the record
  • 45 Questions
  • A lexicon of terror, post-9/11
  • Before attacks, this was the news
  • Other events on Sept. 11
  • Voice mail delivers, retains final words
  • Keeping us rolling
  • 9.11
  • How we'll view it

    Monday, Sept. 9
  • The residue of terror
  • Patriotism is more than emotion
  • What ever happened to . . .: Our religious fervor?
  • The nightmares return
  • Life has the right-of-way
  • Free to disagree
  • 'Time has not healed the pain'
  • Deputies to step up patrol for anniversary
  • Security upgrade since 9/11 slow, steady
  • Enthusiasm for PHCC's security classes dissipates
  • Teachers untangle Sept. 11 lessons
  • A bumpy year for business
  • The man who would have led Afghanistan
  • People who made the headlines

    Tuesday, Sept. 10
  • Multitude to gather to wave U.S. flags
  • Pictures evoke profound feelings
  • Attacks haven't boosted sales of cell phones
  • Schools discover ways to reflect on attacks
  • Flags still wave, but sales fall from peak
  • Three fathers lost
  • Telemarketers easing up on 9/11
  • Nuclear plant adds security layers to prevent terrorism
  • Cough, stress hinder emergency workers
  • Families of missing sit in limbo
  • Places of importance after the attacks

    Wednesday, Sept. 11
  • Remembrance and renewal
  • Flags Along the Bayshore: Tampa Remembers 9/11
  • Ways of remembering
  • A piece of paper . a blue and white truck
  • Is America ready for another attack?
  • Nation to honor victims in silence
  • Poll: Compassion remains
  • The war so far
  • Terror update
  • Attack on Iraq would test headquarters at MacDill
  • 09-11-01 Perspectives
  • Those who died in the attacks
  • Myriad rescue agencies trust their link won't fail
  • Photo gallery
  • (This Flash gallery requires the free Flash Player 5+.)

    Thursday, Sept. 12
  • Emotional service honors those who died selflessly
  • Elements of pride
  • Echo of 9/11 empties airport
  • A day full of tributes, flags and questions
  • Prayer, fellowship pull many through agonizing anniversary
  • Tributes great and small
  • Children in a changed world pause to reflect
  • Citrus recalls 9/11 with its heart
  • Marking the imponderable
  • Ministers assure that God was there that sorrowful day
  • Chime recalls a nation's losses
  • For law officers, day passes quietly
  • Residents gather to heal, remember
  • In big and small ways, our community pays tribute
  • Cities somberly mark Sept. 11
  • Patriotic display greets drivers
  • Day of grief, resolve
  • At county schools, remembrance resounds
  • Travel lags on attacks' anniversary
  • They were us
  • Americans worldwide cautious on anniversary
  • Radical Muslims discuss 'positive outcomes' of Sept. 11
  • Amid grief, Bush gives warning

  • printer version

    Attacks haven't boosted sales of cell phones

    Congested wireless networks in New York City and Washington contrasted the roles cell phones played for victims of the attacks.

    By LOUIS HAU, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 10, 2002

    Cell phones played a supporting role in the drama of Sept. 11, as victims trapped in the World Trade Center and on hijacked airlines used them to make frantic calls to loved ones.

    The portable phones also demonstrated their limitations, as cell phone systems in New York and Washington became bogged down by congestion that kept many calls from going through.

    A year later, there's little evidence of a boom in consumers signing up for cell phones as a way to reach loved ones in a crisis. Experts say that's because so many people already have them.

    "When you start hitting 50 percent penetration, growth is going to slow," said analyst Ken Hyers of In-Stat/MDR, a technology consulting company in Newton, Mass. "You have fewer new users out there."

    But the experience of 9/11 has given impetus to efforts to make cell phones more useful for emergency workers and for users in distress.

    Wireless traffic in New York City on Sept. 11 was 1,400 percent higher than regular peak traffic, while Washington experienced a 400 percent surge in traffic, according to Travis Larson, a spokesman for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, a trade group.

    The unprecedented congestion prevented many cell phone calls from going through. "When everybody reaches for their phones, the networks are simply not designed to handle that capacity," Larson said.

    To prevent jammed wireless networks from hindering emergency rescue efforts, the federal government has put new emphasis on giving key emergency management and law enforcement priority to place calls when a wireless network is congested. Such a system is in place for regular "fixed-line" phones.

    T-Mobile, formerly VoiceStream Wireless, has been running a pilot program in New York City and Washington since May that enables up to 5,000 emergency personnel in the two cities combined to have wireless priority status on its network.

    The group is in talks with wireless carriers, including T-Mobile, to make the priority service nationwide, said Gary Amato, deputy chief of technologies and programs for the National Communications System, an interdepartmental federal advisory group.

    It hopes to start rolling out the program at the end of this year but doesn't yet know when it will be available in all parts of the country, Amato said.

    Under a nationwide system, selected personnel would obtain priority access to a wireless network by pressing the star key and a three-digit code. Emergency personnel wouldn't interrupt calls in progress nor would they be numerous enough to significantly worsen gridlock for average citizens in a crisis, according to Kathryn Condello, vice president of industry operations for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.

    "During an emergency situation, your lowered grade of service is marginally diminished," she said.

    But funding for the necessary upgrades of wireless networks is in doubt. The Bush administration sought $73-million to fund expansion of a wireless priority access system. But during budget deliberations, the House of Representatives has cut the appropriation to about $37-million, while the Senate has cut it to about $20-million, Condello said.

    Meanwhile, efforts continue to allow emergency personnel to pinpoint the location of 911 calls made from cell phones. Since 1998, the Federal Communications Commission has required wireless carriers to provide 911 emergency dispatchers with a caller's phone number and the location of the closest cell "site," or transmission tower. But in some cases, that puts police, fire or ambulance crews responding to an emergency within only a mile or so of the caller.

    By 2005, all wireless handsets will have to provide 911 dispatchers with the location of a wireless caller to within 164 to 984 feet.

    Experts on the wireless industry say there was an increase in the number of new wireless subscribers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Analyst Hyers said Sept. 11 led to "a perception change" of cell phones as being "less of an annoyance and more of an essential."

    But the surge proved to be short-lived and failed to reverse a continued slowdown in subscriber growth rates.

    According to data collected by In-Stat/MDR, the number of U.S. cell phone subscribers grew by 23.2 percent in 2000 and 21.4 percent in 2001, and is expected to grow by 14 percent in 2002 and 11.5 percent in 2003. U.S. subscribers are projected to reach 143.1-million by the end of this year.

    "Wireless handsets are so affordable and already so widely recognized for their convenience and safety that I'm not so sure that 9/11 was a real eye-opener in that regard," said Todd Koffman, a telecommunications analyst for Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg.

    -- Louis Hau can be reached at hau@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3404.

    Back to main page
    Related coverage
  • Multitude to gather to wave U.S. flags
  • Pictures evoke profound feelings
  • Attacks haven't boosted sales of cell phones
  • Schools discover ways to reflect on attacks
  • Flags still wave, but sales fall from peak
  • Three fathers lost
  • Telemarketers easing up on 9/11
  • Nuclear plant adds security layers to prevent terrorism
  • Cough, stress hinder emergency workers
  • Families of missing sit in limbo
  • Places of importance after the attacks