One in Four Don't Have Cellphone Service in Sandy-Affected Areas
The Federal Communications Commission reported that 25 percent of cellphone towers in areas affected by the superstorm Sandy are out of service.
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One in four people in regions affected by the superstorm Sandy don't have cellphone, landline phone, broadband Internet and cable TV connections, the Federal Communications Commission said today (Oct. 30). In addition, the storm has knocked out some 911 call centers.
Only a "very small number" of 911 call centers are affected, Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC, said during a phone conference a Hill reporter attended. The out-of-service centers are redirecting their calls to other centers, but the redirected calls don't have location information about the caller, Genachowski said.
The FCC's numbers, which come from voluntary reports from cellphone companies, join power companies' estimates that 7 to 8 million people have lost electricity because of Sandy.
The communications outages are uneven, Genachowski said. Some areas lack service for far more than 25 percent of residents, while others are much better off.
Some of the remaining working cell towers are running on backup generators, said David Turetsky, chief of the FCC's public safety bureau.
To reduce congestion in communications airwaves, Genachowski suggested people use social media or send text messages instead of placing calls to and from Sandy-affected areas.
The commission will work with states, communications companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to restore service, the Hill reported. But they expect the worst is still to come.
"The storm is not over. Our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile," Genachowski said.
Source: The Hill's "Hillicon Valley"
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