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August 24, 2011

Syniverse Process Over 220 Million SMS Messages in Two Hours Following Virginia Earthquake

By Carrie Schmelkin, TMCnet Web Editor

For those that felt the after effects of the 5.9 earthquake that hit Virginia Tuesday afternoon, the first thought for many was to text a loved one or friend in the Virginia area to make sure they were okay. Others sent SMS messages that were lighter in tone to friends in the New York and Connecticut areas in an effort to determine whether they felt the shake too.

No matter the words in the text, one message came across loud and clear yesterday – the amount of SMS and MMS messages sent surged exponentially.

“What we saw yesterday is something we typically see in a situation like this; when voice circuits get clogged we see that messaging traffic picks up and it points out a couple of critical things – number one the obvious fact that people are very reliant on this form of communication to get in touch with anyone,” Charles Landry, senior vice president of Advanced Messaging Strategies for Syniverse Technologies (News - Alert), a provider of messaging solutions, told TMCnet Wednesday. “Secondly, from network standpoint, it tests our network every time and we are happy to report that again we passed with flying colors because of the amount of scale and resource that is needed to process that kind of traffic.”

According to Syniverse, a leading provider of mobile network technology to mobile operators, cable and Internet providers, the company processed over 220 million SMS messages in the two hours following the earthquake on Tuesday, as compared to 192 million messages for the same two-hour period on Monday, which represents a 15 percent increase.

Moreover, when looking at traffic peaks during the same two-hour period, there was an increase in SMS traffic of 13 percent from the same period a week ago and a 21 percent increase from the same period Monday.

Those statistics were not surprising to Syniverse, however, as natural disasters, tragic events and even holiday seasons typically cause the amount of SMS and MMS messages to increase exponentially. And fortunately for consumers, Syniverse stands ready to address the rise in traffic.

“We absolutely design our systems with that in mind, because at the end of the day the operators want this service to be very reliable and consumers demand it too,” Landry said. “You saw a lot of the questions that were raised about cellular networks on [Tuesday] generically and some of the more cynical tweets or comments that come across. We don’t ever want to be the topic of one of those and we haven’t been to date; that’s the way we like it.”

Despite the quake being one of the largest earthquakes in the history of Virginia to hit the D.C. metro area on Tuesday, leading to the evacuations and closings of some of the nation’s most popular monuments, there was a lot less SMS and MMS traffic on Tuesday than during past natural disasters, according to Landry.

 In fact, even holiday times – such as the last six hours on Dec. 31 and Christmas morning – see greater surges than yesterday. Moreover, when pop icon Michael Jackson died in 2009, Syniverse saw the highest peaks of messaging to date, according to Landry. (One thing to note is that during the terrorist attacks on 9/11 texting was not around in the same form that it is today).

Nonetheless, Landry said situations like the earthquake yesterday remind companies like Syniverse of the importance of being ready.

Today, following the quake, traffic has remained “reasonably high for a Wednesday” but the number of SMS and MMS messages has dropped considerably from Tuesday, Landry said.

“[Tuesday’s earthquake] was well within the sweet spot of our capabilities and our systems and we wouldn’t anticipate any event of this type to put at strain on our resources,” Landry said.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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