Commentary

FCC: Quarter Of Region's Cell Towers Hit By Sandy

FCC Chairmain Julius Genachowski said yesterday that roughly a quarter of cellular towers in East Coast states were walloped by Hurricane Sandy, with many towers running on backup power.

He also suggested that communications outages could get worse before they get better, especially for mobile networks. That’s because further flooding and snowfall in the affected region could cause problems for more cell towers and make it hard for restoration crews to make needed repairs.

The FCC is tracking communication sites for mobile, cable TV and broadband service for a core area of 10 states from Virginia to Massachusetts. The four major U.S. wireless carriers on Tuesday also issued statements on the extent of service issues and outages. Verizon was especially hard-hit, with its facilities in downtown Manhattan, Queens and Long Island flooded.

Outside lower Manhattan, which has suffered the worst disruptions due to the severe flooding, cell service has held up relatively well compared to past disasters, according to a Wall Street Journal report. In their latest Twitter posts, Verizon and the other major carriers said they are assessing the situation and working to restore service in affected areas.

T-Mobile, for example, said in a noon release Wednesday that its network is 90% operational in Washington D.C., and 80% in New York City.

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