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October 29, 2012

Nation's Wireless Providers Are Battle-Ready for Sandy

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

From previous storms and long power outages, we all know the nation’s cell network doesn’t always stand up to the test. America’s wireless carriers, however, seem to be taking a page out of utilities’ play books and are this time making some preparations in advance of the arrival of mega-storm Sandy, which is set to make landfall in New Jersey at about 11:00 pm tonight (Monday, October 29).

Verizon (News - Alert) has reportedly readied its repair equipment, Sprint engineers are deploying backup generators just outside the storm path and AT&T says it has installed new batteries at cell sites.

The nation's three major carriers shut down most retail stores in the mid-Atlantic region and New England on Monday, according to CNN today.

The nation’s wireless carriers are preparing an entire fleet of emergency equipment with some peculiar, farm-like names notes CNN: COWs (Cells On Wheels), COLTs (Cells On Light Trucks), and GOTs (Generators on Trailers). These are solutions comprising temporary cell towers, generators, diesel trucks and sand bags stationed along the storm's edge, and action teams are on standby to roll in with them as soon as something goes down.

The carriers' monitoring centers are watching their networks for any signs of trouble.

While cell towers are relatively sturdy – Sprint (News - Alert) says its towers are built to withstand winds of up to 110 miles per hour – they do sometimes lose power, and those located in flooded areas could be hard to reach.

In addition, demand on the cellular network often increases during storms, since many people today use voice over IP (VoIP) home phones that don’t work when the power’s out, and many take to their cell phones for the duration of the storm, overcrowding networks.

Edited by Braden Becker
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