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COLUMBIA - Tens of thousands of people are coming to mid-Missouri to watch the solar eclipse in August, and AT&T is deploying three temporary cell towers to help keep up with load on wireless.

Chris Lester, an AT&T senior public relations manager, said many people will want to use the network, so the company wanted to increase its coverage in the area. 
"The total eclipse runs through a lot of rural areas where our cell coverage is not as good as an urban area so we decided to help those things as best as we can,” Lester said.
AT&T is sending out nine temporary cell towers across the nation for the solar eclipse. Three of these will be put in Missouri. They will be located in Columbia, Owensville and Washington. 
"Missouri is going to have the largest number of cell on wheels deployed on the day of the eclipse,” Lester said. “We expect those deployments will boost our capacity at those sights at an average of 160 percent.”
Gabe Huffington, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department parks services manager, said one of the towers will be located at Cosmo Park next to the Nickell Shelter.
“There won’t be a lot of intrusion in park activities. We know the eclipse is very important to our community," Huffington said. "We are glad to accommodate it."
He said the tower would probably be set up this week and will be there for three weeks. 
“They are anticipating a large number of people in Columbia. They are making sure they have enough cellular capabilities to satisfy all the customers and citizens,” Huffington said.
AT&T usually puts the temporary towers out when it expects a surge in the number of people in an area.
"It could be a big concert event or festival or football games, things like that, where you don’t see a consistent level of data demand every day, but where you anticipate a surge because of a large congregation of people," Lester said.
He suggests people wait to upload videos and photos until after the eclipse ends. 
“The smart move is be in the moment, be present, take your photos and your videos and all that stuff, and then upload it later,” Lester said. 
He said that would make it easier on the towers, but is "also just a cool way to live."
Read full #ShowMeEclipse coverage at KOMU.com/eclipse.