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November 3, 2012 AT 3:22 pm

Outages Expose Wireless Carriers’ Backup Plans #sandy

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Outages Expose Wireless Carriers’ Backup Plans @ WSJ.com.

Widespread cellphone service outages across the region hit by Sandy, with some carriers performing better than others depending on the location, are giving those debates new urgency.

In the East Village and Greenwich Village neighborhoods of Manhattan, where power has been out since Monday night, signals on the AT&T Inc.’s T -0.46% network were hard to find during walk-throughs conducted by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday and Thursday. Verizon Wireless’s network performed a bit better, with calls going through in much of the area.

In interviews, several residents corroborated those findings, saying that Sprint NextelCorp. S +1.60% and T-Mobile USA signals were elusive as well and that they used their neighbors’ Verizon phones when they had to make calls.

Sprint and AT&T were completely down for about 5 days in the areas hardest hit (where we happen to live and work). Verizon was up most/all of the time.


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7 Comments

  1. Old news, unfortunately. Cell phones have perpetually been unreliable in disaster and will continue to flake out at the worst moments for some time to come. They should never be relied upon as the core communication mechanism in your personal disaster response plan.

  2. At imes like these, a bunch of tethered balloon meshnet android repeaters (with solar power) could be very useful.

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwsy9MThwns

  3. We have FIOS and our battery died after 8 hours of non-use because we were without power for 15 hours. Our neighbor had a gas generator and offered for us to plug in and I happened to have a 100 foot extention cord so I powered my fridge and charged the house phone. The house phone didn’t come on right away as it took a few minutes. A gas generator might cost $50 a day because they run on 6-8 gallons of gas for 8 hours at a 50% load. A house would need a transfer switch to protect and power your heater, fridge and essential things. My relatives bought ice and put the bag in a pan and kept their fridge cold that way.

    Our child didn’t have school for four days and some still don’t have power.

    We designed our emergency plan around what we have an abundance of so we have a bunch of flashlights that take double A batteries.

    I was shocked that a 93 year old man died of hypothermia because older people can’t regulate their body heat so I’ve been looking at 20 below sleeping bags. Others have hospital equipment and others are on oxygen which require electricity. After Sandy, we can look at what went wrong and determine what we need for the future.

  4. One of the things AT&T And TMO did was agree to allow roaming on both networks. I am sure this was done after the loss of coverage.

  5. Cell sites only have battery backup …. once the batteries die … bye-bye.

  6. Looking at the likely reason, and it could have been any carrier that got the worst of it:
    http://www.zdnet.com/sandy-downed-25-percent-of-cell-masts-says-fcc-7000006683/?s_cid=e539
    which companies towers went down in a particular area would be pretty random.

  7. I think by law you can call your cell phone company, tell them that you were denied service and they won’t issue you a refund but if you didn’t have service for five days, they can change the billing date on your bill giving you another five or more days to pay giving people a chance to get back on their feet.

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