Cell Phones, Internet After Hurricane Sandy: What You Need To Know

Residents along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard are struggling with voice and data services in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which has killed dozens and ravaged communication, transportation and utility infrastructure in the Northeast. Damages from the storm are estimated in the tens of billions. Millions on the Eastern Seaboard were left without power, cable or landline service in their homes, as well as spotty or non-existent mobile reception.

How could this happen when telecommunications companies had prepared for Sandy's fury ahead of the storm's landfall? Verizon and AT&T told the Associated Press earlier this week that preparations for the superstorm included "topping up fuel for backup generators and lining up disaster recovery trailers to move into flooded areas after the storm passes," in addition to readying backup generators for cell towers. Despite precautions, strong winds knocked over power lines and took out cell towers in the hardest-hit regions, while tidal surges seeped into underground facilities where sensitive and critical networking equipment was installed.

Verizon, which provides Internet and telephone services and is the largest wireless carrier in the United States, was hit extremely hard in New York and New Jersey. According to Reuters, flooding from the storm damaged telecom equipment in three of Verizon's major switching offices, located in lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island. The failure of these centers completely wiped out non-emergency service in those areas. Network issues persist in the Northeast.


More on Hurricane Sandy 2012