connectivity matters
Superstorm Sandy November 7, 2012  |  Written by

Sandy Reveals Lingering Lack of Wireless Infrastructure

As communities in the Northeast continue to deal with the devastating aftermath of ‘superstorm’ Sandy, the emergency preparedness of the nation’s wireless carriers comes under renewed scrutiny. The widespread cellular service outages that accompanied Sandy’s landfall on October 29th and 30th linger on in some areas, causing many to question just how much progress has been made in shoring up wireless infrastructure in the years since Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast.

Gauging just how much progress has been made is difficult. Unlike electric utilities, which routinely issue updates on how many customers and locales are without power, wireless carriers offer general statements about the state of service, with no hard numbers. But anyone who spent time in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York following last week’s storm will attest to the lack of coverage. Factor in the declining use of landlines, and the vulnerability of our communications networks is magnified.

Carriers all claim to have made significant infrastructure upgrades to bolster reliability, yet they continue to oppose attempts to protect their networks from outages.  Case in point: When the FCC tried to require wireless carriers to have back-up power at their sites, the industry sued to block the legislation and FCC relented.

Sandy-induced outages have been blamed on everything from over-burdened landlines being used to route cellular traffic to fiber optic cables to power failures. Ultimately, it’s all about infrastructure – reliable and secure infrastructure.  There are multiple technology options to ensure network availability and continuous power.  Now that the Achilles heel of our wireless networks has been exposed twice over half a decade, it’s time to make the improvements that will guarantee service when people need it most.

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