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FCC: Sandy Took Out 25% of U.S. Cell Towers
25% of Cable Services Also Impacted
by Karl Bode 10:43AM Wednesday Oct 31 2012 Tipped by FFH5 See Profile
As Sandy recovery begins, FCC data suggests that 25 percent of the nation's wireless companies' cell sites were taken offline by the storm. From power outages to toppled towers, Sandy disrupted cell communications across 158 counties in 10 states from Virginia to Massachusetts -- with many users without power and still struggling to make calls. The FCC also estimated that about 25% of the nation's cable services were knocked offline from the storm. With power still out for roughly 7-8 million people, the situation may not get better for many east coasters until into next week. The FCC notes a significant number of towers are on backup generators, with repair crews still unable to access them to assess damage. The FCC stated a small but unspecified number of 911 centers were also impacted by the storm. As you'd expect, hosting providers and transit links have also been heavily impacted.

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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

A user friendly Q&A on cell service problems

c|net has put together a user friendly Q&A on cell phone service problems related to the hurricane outages.
»news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-575427···now-faq/
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ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA
Reviews:
·RCN CABLE
·Comcast

2 recommendations

lol



timcuth
Braves Fan
Premium
join:2000-09-18
Pelham, AL

1 recommendation

Wired phone system

So, now we rediscover the strength of the old Ma Bell landline telephone system.

Tim

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

Re: Wired phone system

said by timcuth:

So, now we rediscover the strength of the old Ma Bell landline telephone system.

I'm curious to know the percentage of wired systems that also went down. It wouldn't surprise me if that number was near 25% as well. Cell sites rely on wired backhaul connections to central offices, data centers, etc. A tree falling on a overhead lines are pretty nondiscriminatory as to whether it's cable, telephone, power, fiber, etc or some combination of all of the above. There were also numerous flooded COs and data centers that had affected wired services and would also trickle down to affect cable and cell service as well.

nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

Re: Wired phone system

My family just went to FIOS and were without phone service in the promised eight hours. And I expect they'll be down for quite a while - completely unreachable.

They just migrated from underground copper service. Know why? Because Verizon had no interest in fixing their copper service. One phone line that hasn't worked at all in months and another that was unusable due to an extremely loud buzzing.

So basically, telecoms don't want to pay for reliability and they're doing everything they can to get out of it. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a wake up call on that front.

norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI

Re: Wired phone system

Verizon is forcing fiber in my area too. In most cases people want the fast internet and TV service and the phone goes along for the ride. (this applies to Cable co. phone too) . The days of the phone being dependable are quickly becoming a memory of years past. For those that say the tree can fall on the old copper land line as well thats true but in most cases a neighbors phone would still work . Back to the fiber (FiOS) 8 hour battery backup in a several day outage its just not going far and many homes lack a genny. Same issue with cable phone if it has battery backup at all.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2
quote:
So basically, telecoms don't want to pay for reliability and they're doing everything they can to get out of it. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a wake up call on that front.

No offense but the 'Wake-up Call' has been out (and mostly ignored) for several years now. They neglect the copper plant in order to force people to FIOS and wireless... some people defend them vigorously claiming copper is a dead technology and no one is on it anymore anyway. This is a direct result of the PSC relaxing rules on POTS to the point where it is basically unregulated.
PastTense

join:2011-07-06
united state
But what percentage of landlines are overhead anymore? Even in my small rural location they have buried the cables.

cdru
Go Colts
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join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: Wired phone system

said by PastTense:

But what percentage of landlines are overhead anymore? Even in my small rural location they have buried the cables.

Around here, a ton. Residetial neighborhoods built in the last 35 years or so are mostly underground. But between those and what is considered "downtown" in my city, it's mostly aerial still. Out in the country, unless a developer has created a neighborhood and buried the line, most country houses on rural roads are also aerial. And regardless of age, many of the trunk lines are still aerial.

JimThePCGuy
Formerly known as schja01.
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-27
Morton Grove, IL

1 recommendation

said by cdru:

said by timcuth:

So, now we rediscover the strength of the old Ma Bell landline telephone system.

I'm curious to know the percentage of wired systems that also went down. It wouldn't surprise me if that number was near 25% as well. Cell sites rely on wired backhaul connections to central offices, data centers, etc. A tree falling on a overhead lines are pretty nondiscriminatory as to whether it's cable, telephone, power, fiber, etc or some combination of all of the above. There were also numerous flooded COs and data centers that had affected wired services and would also trickle down to affect cable and cell service as well.

This article says the wired system faired better than wireless.

"Outages for landline phones are said to be much less widespread."

»bit.ly/TXqfqg

commonsense

@montanasat.net
What it reflects is the need to require backup power for cell towers, the same way pressure was brought to bear on pre-breeakup AT&T to have generators and backup batteries for the PTSN, which was correctly viewed as a National Security asset that required national attention (with the PTSN being replaced by cell and digital, the bureaucrats and politicians in D.C. need to realize these systems are the next generation replacement). Both the Bush and Obama administrations have been loath to impose regulations that mandate back up power at cell towers. In 2005, the FCC had a proposed rule that would have required there to be 8 hours of backup power at all cell sites. The usual suspects lobbied to have it killed, successfully. The Obama administration has continued to ignore the issue. That said, the magnitude of this storm was on such a scale that even with backup power at every cell site there would still be problems. The public view and pressure being placed upon the big 3 carriers will probably ensure that they will work to restore service as quickly as possible. They don't want momentum to build on the Hill and in the Executive Branch to take away their existing autonomy. My sympathies to those affected by Sandy.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Re: Wired phone system

National Security? I suppose anything is possible but given today's technology and "global" military/CIA, if they depend on the US wired or cell infrastructure to keep us safe, we should all be scared. These resources did not provide even one square mile of coverage in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I was watching a NatGeo (or Discovery?) program about Air Force One and while it inter-links to the land and wireless networks, it uses satellites. I'd also bet that the down-link interconnects are ridiculously redundant and strategically placed. I also expect this is the norm for other branches of government that deal with matters of national security.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Wired phone system

Communications is a critical infrastructure sector and is a national security issue. National security isn't just provided by DoD and CIA and it isn't just conducting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DHS Critical Infrastructure Sectors
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Re: Wired phone system

My bad. I didn't know national security had such a broad definition. I was thinking external threats to our sovereignty and it's really any threat that would have significant impact on America's way of life.
FloridaBoy

join:2009-06-22
Bradenton, FL
Well I have been hearing a little buzz about micro-cell systems or wifi being an answer for the future. Is this the kind of thing that can kill that??

Most of you are probably more in tune with tech than I am so are my thoughts off base??
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2
FYI, most of the cell sites in NYc do have battery back-up and/or diesel generators. The problem is that the back-end fiber equipment either doesn't have backup power or the batteries have been neglected for YEARS (Verizon doesn't maintain them) and provide power for about 5 seconds after the failure.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

lame

so much for Verizon and AT&T's reputation for keeping cell sites going in power outages and being that "reliable" alternative to a landline..

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2

Re: lame

Do you ever criticize the cable industry?

The Limit
Premium
join:2007-09-25
Greensboro, NC
kudos:2

Re: lame

The same could be said about your opinion on all things morally ethical in the corporate world. He has a point though.

ITALIAN926

join:2003-08-16
kudos:2

Re: lame

PEOPLE acting morally ethical is what you're referring to.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS
said by ITALIAN926:

Do you ever criticize the cable industry?

Sure, for all of about 5 minutes Comcast was flirting with the idea of changing over to FTTP but has since recoiled from this idea in the immediate future.. the longer it takes to get started, the costlier it will become. Charging for cablemodem rental isn't exactly on my kudos list either.

tito2020

@verizon.net
Sprint was the only carrier that was still up.
34764170

join:2007-09-06
Etobicoke, ON
said by tmc8080:

so much for Verizon and AT&T's reputation for keeping cell sites going in power outages and being that "reliable" alternative to a landline..

cell sites were never considered a reliable alternative to a POTS line.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1

Here's the solution

Here's the solution

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_phone

nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

Re: Here's the solution

It's a solution for a handful of customers - not millions in a geographical region flocking to the service after a storm. The system would simply be overwhelmed.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT
I have a better solution:

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Here's the solution

That works if you want to talk to random people on the other side of the world. Not so much if you want to get in touch with a specific person.

Not to mention that it requires getting a license from the FCC and a giant antenna.
--
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Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

Re: Here's the solution

I'm sure the entire east coast isn't void of HAM's. Just get in contact with one and he could relay a message to someone that has working comms.
CXM_Splicer
Looking at the bigger picture
Premium
join:2011-08-11
NYC
kudos:2

Re: Here's the solution

That is exactly what happens during a disaster like this where other forms of communication don't work. There is a HAM present at each of the Red Cross emergency shelters specifically for this purpose as a matter of fact. If anyone is curious, do some research on ARES

As itguy05 said, the test is not too hard to pass for the basic level. Most of the guys use the 2 meter band with a walkie-talkie type radio (with a small antenna) or a mobile in the car for fairly local communication. The larger antennas are for lower frequencies that can go around the world. It is an extremely interesting 'hobby' with things like moon-bounce communications, digital modes, satellites, direction finding, 10+ GHz microwaves... I would have thought that more of the people in here would have been HAMs considering so many are technically minded.
itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA
said by Morac:

That works if you want to talk to random people on the other side of the world. Not so much if you want to get in touch with a specific person.

Not to mention that it requires getting a license from the FCC and a giant antenna.

License from the FCC is easy - you have to learn a few things (Morse Code is not one of them).

And you don't need a giant antenna - one of these:
»www.wouxun.us/category.php?category_id=54

would do well for local communications.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO
»www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf

Some frequencies require a large antenna but that's perhaps a classic opinion. There are lots of frequencies. In fact some are really prime and perhaps even envied by the wireless industry.

jerks

@ameritech.net

2 edits

u

instead of trying to be part of the solution all you want to do is sit here and bicker about who sucks and who rules... how about >we have people injured and without services and we need to get in there and make things right. Point fingers later!

axiomatic

join:2006-08-23
Tomball, TX

Bright side

Look at the bright side. The east coast will be getting brand new gear and your quality of service will likely go up because of it. The downside is that you have to go without for a while till it all gets fixed.

(note: not saying the storm was a good thing... very sad, very traumatizing, only that there is a bright side to the telcom aspects.)

Tomek
Premium
join:2002-01-30
Valley Stream, NY

In my part of Long Island

My local cellphone tower is behaving erratically, my phone jumps from 4G to no-G and anything in between. I have to drive half mile north for good signal.

Since I am FIOS customer by battery backup was done after 8 hours. I don't have generator and i will be stuck for days without power. I was able to connect car battery via inverter and FIOS works fine. Internet and phone (not enough juice for TV).
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Jim_in_VA

join:2004-07-11
Cobbs Creek, VA
kudos:4

Re: In my part of Long Island

that sucks, hang in there Tomek. Hope it comes back on soon.
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sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
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Reviews:
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·Verizon FiOS
said by Tomek:

My local cellphone tower is behaving erratically, my phone jumps from 4G to no-G and anything in between. I have to drive half mile north for good signal.

Since I am FIOS customer by battery backup was done after 8 hours. I don't have generator and i will be stuck for days without power. I was able to connect car battery via inverter and FIOS works fine. Internet and phone (not enough juice for TV).

Just be sure you have the battery in a well ventilated the space to avoid hydrogen buildup.