In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the FCC continues to monitor the health and stability of cellphone networks in affected areas. As Maggie Reardon of CNet reports:
“This was and still is a devastating storm with a serious impact on our nation’s communications infrastructure,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a conference call with press this afternoon. “The storm is not over. And 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.”
Genachowski said that as of 10 a.m. ET today, 25 percent of the nation’s wireless companies’ cell sites were not operational in 158 counties in 10 states from Virginia to Massachusetts. This information comes from the carriers themselves, which report outages to the FCC as part of the agency’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).
At the Wall Street Journal, Spencer E. Ante, Thomas Gryta, and Anton Troianovski report a bigger problem for people in storm-ravaged areas has been keeping devices charged:
Cellphone networks that were crippled or overloaded in past disasters held up relatively well in the wake of Sandy, but iPhone-toting residents of the Northeast are closely monitoring a new source of stress: battery power.
People in the region hammered by the storm leaned on their smartphones for news of the outside world even after the lights went out. For those outside of hard-hit Lower Manhattan, where phone service was badly disrupted, the trick was keeping the batteries alive on devices that typically don’t make it through a long work day.
Meanwhile, via Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm, there was a notable spike in Internet traffic leading up the storm:
Sandvine, a company selling deep-packet inspection gear to ISPs, shared a blog post noting that in one East Coast city on the Monday ahead of Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey, Internet traffic was up 114 percent. Sandvine also tracked a more than 150 percent rise in Netflix traffic, which was later confirmed by Netflix. Skype usage in the afternoon was up as well.
As Higginbotham goes on to note, this bodes well for the sturdiness of America’s digital infrastructure — although all preparations have their limits, namely a lack of power and swamped data centers.