Sounds like a sci-fi conspiracy theory, but it’s not. There are small towns on the path of totality, like the ones we are recommending Americans visit, that are preparing to have their cell networks overwhelmed by the crush of people.
Hopkinsville, KY—a quiet large town of about 32,000 people—is expecting over 100,000 visitors to descend on their town during the eclipse. Part of the reason making Hopkinsville "eclipsville" is its position on the path of totality, but it’s also the birth place of Edgar Cayce, “the Sleeping Prophet” who believed this eclipse is enormously significant and will usher a new era of Peace and Love. Residents of Hopkinsville are worried about running out of gas, food, even bottled water. One local said, “The eclipse is exciting for us, since the most exciting thing that happens around here is when someone get’s shot.”
The real excitement for visitors will be the possible cell phone blackout. Imagine hundreds of thousands of people all along the intercontinental eclipse path. Some of them will be using their smartphones to make sure they navigate themselves close to the centerline so they don’t miss the total phase of the eclipse. Others will be connecting with fellow travelers. But most during totality will think it’s really great to FaceTime, LiveStream, or otherwise use huge amounts of phone bandwidth during the 2 minutes of totality.
To combat this all major nationwide carriers are addressing the problems by rolling out portable cell towers. Some are cells on wheels called COWs. Others are cells on light trucks called COLTs. Both types are designed to increase cell capacity during the peak load of nationwide totality.