Sandy downed 25 percent of cell masts, says FCC

Sandy downed 25 percent of cell masts, says FCC

Summary: The worst storm to hit the U.S. in living memory has downed around a quarter of all cell masts across the ten states affected by Sandy, the federal regulator said on Tuesday.



Hurricane Sandy has pulled down around 25 percent of the U.S.' wireless companies' cell sites in the 10 states affected by the storm, federal regulators said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told reporters that most of the cell towers still operational are being powered by generators but could run out fuel before domestic electricity service is restored to the affected areas, reports the Associated Press news agency.

In spite of the downed trees and the massive power outages, the landline phone network has held up better in the affected 10 states hit by Sandy than the cell networks have. That said, more than a quarter of landline customers are affected by outages in Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York City and state.

However, the FCC did not give an estimate to how many users were affected by the cell outages.

911 call centers have held up well, according to the regulator, but some are affected by the power outages and are re-routing calls to other centers outside of callers' nearby locations.

"The storm is not over. And our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks because of the flooding and loss of power," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call late yesterday.

Out of the major U.S. cellular networks, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile all said they would continue to "assess the damage" left by Sandy, but did not have a time frame of when services might be up and running again. 

Verizon said its offices had flooded, and those served by those offices "will experience a loss of all services including FiOS (voice, internet, video), high speed internet, and telephone services." Sprint said customers "particularly in the New York tri-state area, parts of Pennsylvania, and parts of New England" would be most affected.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA did not give any definitive response on where it was most hit; neither did AT&T, but said they would continue to assess the situation on the ground.

Image credit: Shara Tibken/CNET

Topics: Government US, 4G, Networking, Telcos, Verizon

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  • Power outages

    I am still not clear why so many power lines in the US are not buried, like in much of Europe. Misplaced cost savings?
    • Cost plus distance

      The US is a lot bigger than most European countries. Having said that I can defintiely see the benefit of spending the money for it in states like Florida. On the other hand burying the lines in California would probably be a bad idea.
  • T-Mobile...

    I doubt T-Mobile's service will be any worse than normal. How could it get any worse?
  • Best article in living memory?

    "The worst storm to hit the U.S. in living memory..." What?!!!! Let's see:
    Katrina 2005, Camille, Andrew...what about the 1938 Long Island/New England storm.
    Do we blame the school system or what you've been smoking?
    Damn the facts...full hype ahead!
  • Sandy

    With all due and great respect to all those who lost anything I reflect upon the following...
    Were any bridges affected and was Intel involved LOL

  • Please Don't Call!

    I work at a Sprint call center. Had a guy call me today. He has a tower next door to him, laying flat on the ground. He was calling in, upset, because his cell phone doesn't have service and was DEMANDING when his service was going to be restored and demanding a full months credit.
    Come on people, storm is still out there, roads are impassible, and so many areas are flooded!
    Believe me, all of the carriers will do their VERY best to restore services. Sprint also is rolling out their COWS trucks to help with service. Give us time!
  • Hope They Don't Just Replace Old Junk with New Junk

    Since the carriers have to do so much repair and replacement, I hope they will seize the opportunity to upgrade their infrastructure.
  • The worst storm to hit the U.S. - NOT

    It seems to have been the worst hurricane to hit NYC or the NJ coast, but it is in no way the worst storm th hit the U.S. Perhaps if your only yardstick is dollars, but that's highly misleading. A storm that killed 6,000 people and destroyed Galveston in 1900 didn't cause nearly as much dollar damage, because the dollar was $32 for an ounce of gold.


    Too bad we didn't have lots of offshore NJ wind farms to get destroyed...
    • And the 1938 hurricane was much worse,

      From what my living mother has told me! I take it that Zack was perhaps referring to his living memory?
  • RE: If it is not Manhattan it don't count

    1938 That hit Long Island and New England with 125 MPH but skirted Manhattan. Gloria in 1985 did not have the tides but very close to Sandy's wind and power line damage but that was Long Island ,NYC papers were full of we missed it or beat it story lines while LI was out of power 11 days. Irene flooded those hicks upstate new York, New Jersey and New England so the a year later most people believe it was all overblown hype.

    This was arguably the widest and weirdest though