Another Sandy Casualty: Cell Networks

The Federal Communications Commission said 25 percent of the cell towers in the Northeast were disabled in the wake of the storm.

If it seemed on Tuesday and Wednesday like your smartphone was having unusual trouble making calls or downloading web pages, it probably wasn't your imagination.

In addition to the billions of dollars in property damage its estimated to have caused in the Northeast, Hurricane Sandy also did a number on the region's mobile networks.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told Reuters that a quarter of the cellular towers in the Northeast were out of commission following the storm. AT&T Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all reported service disruptions.

According to Reuters, Verizon may have suffered some of the worst damage from the storm.

"Verizon is discovering that many poles and power lines/Verizon cables are down throughout the region due to heavy winds and falling trees," the company reportedly said.

Additionally, Verizon reported trouble with its fiber-based FiOS voice and data services, particularly in the flood-stricken New York metropolitan area. Cable providers Comcast and Cablevision also reported some service problems in storm affected areas.

T-Mobile said in a statement on its website that it was proceeding with "restoration work" in affected areas throughout the Northeast, including Philadelphia and other portions of Pennsylvania.

Sprint told ZDNet that it was experiencing "service impacts" in much of the storm zone, but "particularly in the New York tri-state area, parts of Pennsylvania, and parts of New England."

In a statement to technology news website Ars Technica, AT&T said it was aware of "some issues in areas heavily impacted by the storm" and that it was in the "initial stages" of a damage assessment.

Chris Taylor Jr November 01, 2012 at 03:45 AM
one of the big problems with the cell disruptions that NEEDS to be worked on (hopefully voluntarily by the carriers without legislation) they need to OPEN their networks wide open in these area's. IE let any phone that can negotiate a proper connection DO SO and work without restriction. I have sprint service with roaming. the tower nearest to me went down so I had virtually no signal but it would roam to the Verizon tower which did have a viable signal but it was not usable. the error I got when I tried to make a call indicates to me that the authentication system between sprint and verizon was non functional. since the VZ tower could not authenticate my sprint phone it denied me access. no voice no text no data.
Tom Sofield November 01, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I agree, Chris. This is an issue that needs to be looked at.
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