Although the destruction and devastation that occurred from Hurricane Sandy (or as some must call it, “superstorm Sandy”) was unparalleled, there is at least one basic service that everyone takes for granted that is just about fully functional again. Verizon and AT&T have both announced that their cellular networks are back to more than 95% operational on the East Coast.
The two major carriers each had infrastructure, facilities, and office space that were affected by the storm. Verizon‘s biggest building in Manhattan was notably in the electrical dead zone after massive flooding into the city’s power utility tunnels, but it managed to work via backup generators until the power was restored.
Sandy brought forth numerous “firsts,” including the first time the New York City subway shut down for nearly 72 hours, and causing the biggest weather-related power outage in American history. Luckily, however, the mobile networks never collapsed. There was a point when AT&T was down to 80% network capacity, and most people in the region experienced at least one instance of being unable to complete a call because they got a “busy network” error.
However, cell phones remained a reliable way to keep in contact with friends and family throughout and after the storm. Some carriers are also offering special concessions to their customers. For example, Verizon is waiving late fees to those affected by Sandy. In addition, AT&T teamed up with T-Mobile to boost both networks’ reach. In other words, this storm was a case study in how mobile carriers can deal with a crisis.
We also can’t forget the extremes some services went to in order to stay online. A case in point is the 75 Broad Street data center that had 25 people carrying buckets of diesel up to the 17th floor.