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Niantic blames carriers for Chicago GO Fest failure; says other festivals will go ahead

After Niantic’s Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago turned into something of a disaster – with many attendees unable to use the game at all, and others unable to login or suffering crashes – the company has laid most of the blame at the feet of carriers …

Niantic says in a blog post that unspecified ‘technical issues’ on its own server were responsible for some of the issues, and it was able to resolve these with a configuration change. But the main problem, it says, was network congestion.

A more protracted problem was caused by oversaturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers. This caused many attendees to be unable to access Pokémon GO or other Internet services. Network congestion also led to a login issue which affected some users able to access the Internet.

The company says that it advised carriers in advance of the likely numbers and bandwidth needed, and accuses them of an inadequate response.

We provided detailed estimates on attendance and required data throughput per user to our event partner who worked with the major carriers to allow them to plan for adequate coverage. Some carriers deployed Cellular on Wheels (COWs) to extend their capacity. In other cases the providers deemed them unnecessary based on other infrastructure already in place at the site. Users reported different levels of success with these providers.

Niantic singled-out Sprint as a company that took action to provide the necessary capacity.

Sprint was onsite as an official partner, deployed Cellular on Wheels [a mobile base station providing extend capacity], and their network was busy but held up well.

The company says that other events planned in Japan and across Europe will go ahead as planned.

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