Destruction from Superstorm Sandy led to the loss of service in nearly a quarter of all mobile phone towers in the northeastern US, say officials.
The Wall Street Journal cited FCC officials in reporting that after the superstorm made landfall Tuesday, as many as 25 per cent of all cell phone towers were inoperable. While the figure is believed to have come down since, officials on Wednesday were quoted as saying some 20 per cent of installations are still not properly functioning.
The outages add to a list of infrastructure problems affecting cities in the New York, New Jersey and New England areas hit hardest by the storm. A number of areas remain flooded or without power, and damage to datacentre facilities has caused problems for a number of sites and web portals based in the area.
"We are continuing to work closely with FEMA and our other federal, state, and local partners – as well as communications companies – in response efforts. In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to expect the unexpected as the full picture of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on communications networks develops," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said.
"The crisis is not over. We’ll continue to be intensely focused on helping with the full recovery of wired and wireless communications infrastructure."
For users who have mobile service, the commission is advising limiting phone usage in order to minimise the strain on local networks. The FCC is advising users to conduct non-emergency conversations through SMS messages rather than voice calls, which have a higher network footprint.
Additionally, the commission is advising users who still lack power in their homes to use car-chargers if possible in order to keep their handsets available for use in the event of an emergency.
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