Phone outages created by Hurricane Sandy are likely to get worse before getting better, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski warned Tuesday.
Flooding, snow, and other rough weather conditions are likely to impede efforts to restore electricity and communications networks, Genachowski told reporters. Wireless communications are vulnerable to sustained outages, Genachowski said, according to National Journal.
Sandy has had a "substantial and serious" impact on the communications infrastructure, Genachowski noted, adding, "The storm is not over. Our posture is to expect the unexpected."
Roughly a quarter of broadband, home phone, or cable services experienced widespread outages, FCC officials stated as the agency's system monitors 158 counties in 10 states, National Journal has reported.
Pointing out that "very small number" of 911 call centers were down, Genachowski added some centers were rerouting emergency calls to other centers.
Reportedly, the wireless service is disrupted across several major carriers. AT&T Inc (T) customers were not receiving wireless service in lower Manhattan. The company was experiencing problems on wireless and wireline network in areas hard hit by the storm.
"We are in the initial stages of performing an on-the-ground assessment of our network for damage, and crews will be working around the clock to restore service," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said in a statement. "We are deploying personnel and equipment as soon as it is safe to do so."
Verizon Communications Inc stated flooding and power loss in lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island resulted in problems with its network.
The company deputed teams to work on problems, including at "two critical switching centers in Manhattan that were severely affected due to flooding and power outage issues," spokesman Bill Kula told the Wall Street Journal.
Verizon Wireless stated the company was assessing wireless situation as customers may have lost services including FiOS TV, Internet and telephone connections.
Sprint Nextel Corp (S) spokeswoman stated a few customers in the affected region did not have service. "We are definitely experiencing some impact," Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis told The Wall Street Journal.
The company's network in lower Manhattan has been disrupted by "an extended loss of commercial power and significant flooding around the Battery Park area."
T-Mobile USA said customers may experience "service disruptions or an inability to access service in some areas, especially those that were hardest hit by the storm."
Though telecom companies spent days preparing for the storm by activating regional coordination centers, testing equipment and positioning resources for deployment nothing could stand in the way of Sandy as the telecom equipment require power to operate.
Despite batteries and generators helping in creation of redundancy, power outages were fairly widespread in tri-state New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area that networks were not spared.
Verizon's enterprise division that provides services to businesses posted an update stating that field crews are beginning to assess the situation in the storm areas and are working with authorities on restoring service. "Many poles and power lines/ Verizon cables are down throughout the region due to heavy winds and falling trees," the company stated.
The phone outage warning came amid initial steps taken by affected people in the coastal corridor to reclaim routine after the disaster.
Though more than 8.2 million remained without power supply as far away as Michigan, talk of recovery has begun.