East Coast communications infrastructure challenged by Sandy

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As of Oct. 31, about 20 percent of cell phone sites in the core areas of the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy were down, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

In addition, about a quarter of consumers in the core area – encompassing 158 counties in 10 states stretching from Virginia to Massachusetts – were bereft of wired services, including plain old telephone service, broadband Internet and cable service, the FCC says.

The commission may be able to release further updates on communications infrastructure status later on Nov. 1, an FCC spokesman said. Before Hurricane Sandy hit, the FCC activated (.pdf) its  Disaster Information Reporting System to monitor outages and coverage loss of phone, internet, and TV services.

Internet traffic tracking firm Renesys of Manchester, N.H. has detected a decrease in network outages in the Northeast however, although at last report, New York in particular was still suffering from a storm-related lack of connectivity.

Cell phone service has the potential to degrade in the hours after a storm, since battery-power backups for cell phone towers have a limited duration. According to the Energy Department's Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability, about 4.66 million remain (.pdf) without power due to Sandy as of the morning of Nov. 1, with New Jersey and New York continuing to experience the worst outages in absolute and percentage terms. In New Jersey, 45 percent of customers are without power, the office says.  

For more:
- download the latest electric outage report from the  Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability (.pdf)

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