Cellphone priority
July 7th, 2005

This IHT article says that mobile phone system operators gave emergency services priority over ordinary callers in the aftermath of the London bombings.Difficulty in completing calls led to speculation that “the authorities might have asked mobile operators to shut down their networks as a precaution against the possible use of mobile phones to detonate bombs.But network operators denied this”.Following the bombings,”O2 took steps to increase network capacity,invoking a procedure called half-rate coding,which allows more mobile calls to be made using existing bandwidth,but at lesser voice quality and with the reduction or elimination of mobile data and video services.Mobile operators set aside space for emergency services.Ben Padovan,a spokesman for Vodafone,the world’s largest mobile operator,said this system gives priority to certain callers through the International Mobile Subscriber Identity coding system,or IMSI.”As an ordinary subscriber,under the IMSI, you would have had a lower level of service,”he said.While analysts say mobile phones could be used to detonate bombs in some cases -in the Madrid train bombings last year they served as trigger devices – they might also aid in the investigation.Because many mobile phones now have cameras, some Underground riders might have pictures of people connected with the bombing,or other useful evidence,in their phones.”

Rescuers got cellphone priority

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