Sandy knocked out 25 percent of nation's cell sites

Cell-phone service disruption may last for weeks

By Natasha Lennard
Published October 31, 2012 8:06PM (EDT)

Concerns along the Eastern Seaboard about the safety of loved ones when Hurricane Sandy hit were multiplied as millions of cell-phone calls went unanswered. Lower Manhattan still remains a Bermuda Triangle for phone service and in many surrounding areas connectivity is patchy at best.

During a conference call Tuesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reported that, as of Tuesday morning, 25 percent of the nation’s cell sites were out of commission, in a 10-state stretch from Virginia to Massachusetts. "They’re underwater, or out of power, or just plain busted. Most of the outages are concentrated in the areas where the storm damage was worst," noted The Observer's BetaBeat.

Genachowski said we are not over the worst of this aspect of Sandy fallout. Cell towers, which lost power form local electricity, have been forced to rely on backup batteries to keep communications going. But as those batteries drain without any way to recharge, more cell phones will be forced out of service. "Our assumption is that communications outages could get worse before they get better, particularly for mobile networks, because of the flooding and loss of power,” he said.





Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Cell-phones East Coast Electricity Frankenstorm Hurricane Sandy New York Weather