Mobile networks braced for 'busiest ever' New Year surge

Texting 'happy new year' Operators expect record numbers of messages to be sent to friends and family

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Mobile networks are preparing for the "busiest ever" night of texts and calls as people see in the New Year.

One operator, EE, has predicted that its customers alone will use more than 226 terabytes - 236,978,176 megabytes - of mobile data as they took to Twitter and instant messaging services.

The network said it expected around 303 million calls to be made and 234 million texts to be sent.

Last year, the busiest time for sending messages was at 00:05 GMT.

Vodafone told the BBC that at its peak New Year's Eve 2011 saw more than 12,000 texts handled in a single second.

More than two million texts were sent over the network in a five minute period after midnight.

Temporary parties

Other networks have said that they would make sure their services are operating at maximum capacity throughout the evening.

"We'll ensure we keep any maintenance work to a minimum which will help customers send and receive text and picture messages via their mobiles," a spokesman for O2 said.

This year, it is expected that more people will turn to services such as Skype, Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook to send well wishes to friends and family.

EE said it expected data usage to be up 97.8% on 2011, while Vodafone too expected a substantial rise in use. Last year, it said, more than a million of its customers accessed Facebook between the hours of 18:00 GMT on the 31 December to 06:00 GMT on the 1 January.

Vodafone said its preparations for the night's celebrations began in February.

"We start early so that we can identify and upgrade sites where we know there is going to be high usage as a result of large gatherings of people celebrating the New Year," a spokesman told the BBC in an email.

"We also plan for any temporary sites that we may need in order to deal with specific locations which generally do not have high traffic during the rest of the year (such as local parks which are hosting New Year's parties)."

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