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Wireless ops report progress on post-hurricane repairs

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 3:17pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Wireless providers on the East Coast report that progress is being made to restore service after major damage from Hurricane Sandy last week.

Cell towers and other infrastructure were hit hard by flooding and power outages, particularly in New Jersey and New York.

The FCC estimated that 25 percent of cell sites in the path of the massive storm were knocked out last week, with the number of outages declining to 15 percent by Nov. 2.

Since then, operators have sent in repair crews to get networks back online.

AT&T reported Monday that 98 percent of its cell sites were now operational in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. In hard-hit areas of New York City, nearly 95 percent of its cell sites are up and running.

Verizon said it had made "strong progress" but warned that "challenges remain in New Jersey and New York due to extended commercial power outages and heavy damage to company facilities."

Several critical facilities on lower Manhattan and Queens were flooded, and Verizon said that it may still need to repair other damage to restore service, even after power returns to those facilities. It is waiving fees for text messaging and domestic voice calls for customers in some New York and New Jersey counties between Oct. 29 and Nov. 16.

Sprint is also working to restore service in New York City, where 75 percent of its network is operational, "but challenges remain in obtaining commercial power, backhaul connections and gaining safe access to cell sites."

Repair efforts have made more progress outside the metropolitan center, with 80 percent of Sprint’s network operational in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York State. Sprint’s network is 90 percent operational in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and has been fully restored in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Kentucky.

T-Mobile has not issued an update on its progress since Saturday, when it said it was assisting American Red Cross shelters in New Jersey with phones and voice service. T-Mobile's customers stand to benefit from AT&T's progress, as the two companies last week forged a roaming agreement so customers could get service in severely affected areas.

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