The large number of cruise ships docking in Skagway, Alaska, may be great for the local economy, but the tourists they bring are slowing telecommunications to a crawl for residents.

Some days see as many as four large cruise ships docked in Skagway. That often means tens of thousands of new people, suddenly trying to log on with their smartphones to wireless networks.

For the community of roughly 1,000 people a little under 200 kilometres north of Juneau, that's a massive weight on the system.

It's a relatively new problem, said Buckwheat Donohue, executive director of the city's convention and visitor's bureau.

"Sometimes, when I send texts out to people," he said, "I might have to send the text six or seven times over a 30-minute period before somebody gets it, and it's just easier to go to a trunk line if you're trying to call a cellphone."

The town's cellular service provider plans to upgrade to a 4G network that's able to transmit more data, faster. That should solve most of the problem.

Donohue noted that the nearby community of Haines has similar problems, but that community has less cellular capacity than Skagway.