Sandy Hits Media, Communications Networks Hard

by , Oct 30, 2012, 4:38 PM
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Hurricane-SandyHurricane Sandy delivered a wallop to media and communications networks in the Northeast, cutting off cable networks and mobile coverage for a large area extending from southern New Jersey to New England. The disruptions, which began in coastal areas Sunday night as Sandy came ashore, were still being felt Tuesday afternoon, and were likely to continue through Wednesday and possibly beyond in some places.

A combination of widespread power outages, flooding, and damage to communications infrastructure and equipment resulted in the loss of cable service for large swaths of the New York City metropolitan area. According to Multichannel News, a spokesman for Cablevision Systems said its network was experiencing “widespread service interruptions, primarily related to the loss of power.”

Time Warner Cable attributed outages to power failures throughout the region, and Comcast customers also reported loss of service.

Meanwhile Verizon, whose customers may have suffered the most outages, said two key switching centers in Manhattan were severely affected by the storm; according to the Multichannel News report, the company’s corporate headquarters in Lower Manhattan and offices in Long Island and Queens were also flooded, knocking out backup power at those locations. Many Verizon customers are reported to have temporarily lost FiOS TV, Internet, and telephone service. According to a statement from the company, “Verizon is discovering that many poles and power lines/Verizon cables are down throughout the region due to heavy winds and falling trees.”

AT&T reported some disruption of its wireless and wireline networks, the Wall Street Journal reports, and Sprint Nextel also said its service has also been impacted by power outages throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

The impact from Hurricane Sandy presumably includes downed or damaged cell phone towers, but in most places survey and repair crews were only beginning their work, making it impossible to determine how much damage the towers actually sustained.

Electronic networks weren’t the only forms of communication suffering disruptions: most newspapers had little or no distribution on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the New York Times told the Huffington Post that delivery trucks couldn’t make it into Manhattan from College Point, where the newspaper is printed, although some trucks did get to Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn.

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