Carriers brace networks for impact of Hurricane Sandy

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA all said they were preparing their networks and their disaster response for the landfall of Hurricane Sandy. The massive storm is barreling up the East Coast and is expected to hit land sometime this evening somewhere between central New Jersey and southern Delaware before meeting up with a nor'easter, according to the New York Times. Government and emergency response officials are predicting widespread power outages as a result of the high winds of the storm.

In advance of the storm, the nation's tier 1 carriers said they were taking numerous steps to prepare for the hurricane's impact. The storm will also be a test of the National Weather Service's severe-weather alerts that are sent directly to wireless consumers' handsets. That service is one part of a broader federal alert system that the nation's largest carriers are supporting.

Verizon said its wireless and wireline units have activated national and regional command and control centers, allowing Verizon operations teams to monitor the storm's progress and company operations, including network performance. Verizon said it has established communications with power and other utility providers to ensure proper coordination in the event of storm damage, and that it is working with vendors and other outside partners to ensure that critical communications equipment and supplies can be prioritized, stocked and shipped expeditiously. Additionally, Verizon said that a range of equipment--including poles, fiber-optic and copper cable, portable cell sites that can replace a damaged cell tower, and mobile emergency generators that can be used when local electrical power fails--is being put in place around the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

AT&T said it is initiating its Network Disaster Recovery function, which it has invested $600 million in since 1991. The carrier said it is has been topping off fuel at generators positioned at cell sites, installing and testing high-capacity back-up batteries at cell sites, installing "Quick Connect Generator Plugs" at cell sites and on portable generators in hurricane-prone areas, distributing portable generators, and putting additional emergency response equipment in strategic locations near the anticipated landfall, including additional generators, fuel tankers and putting third-party vendors and suppliers on standby.

Sprint said it is taking similar steps, and is verifying the operational readiness of generators and emergency equipment at all mobile switching centers and network facilities. Sprint also said it is making sure that its "network strike teams" are on standby and ready to deploy following Sandy's landfall. Additionally, Sprint said it is providing any local public-safety agency in need of emergency communications with 14 days of free service via 25 Sprint ERT wireless devices in states where an official state of emergency has been declared, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile said in a statement that its engineering teams have established regional staging areas and network Command Centers along the East Coast, especially in the areas of potential landfall or severe impact. T-Mobile also said it has equipment ready to be driven to affected areas to replace cell sites that may have gone down or network switches for fixed-line service.

The storm has also turned the tech world upside down. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) canceled a New York City media event expected to showcase the latest iteration of its Android mobile operating system. Additionally, AllThingsD postponed its D: Dive Into Mobile conference, which was to take place in lower Manhattan, an area that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York declared as a mandatory evacuation zone. The speakers for the D conference had included Google's Andy Rubin, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CEO Stephen Elop and Verizon Wireless CMO Tami Erwin.

For more:
- see this Verizon release
- see this AT&T release
- see this Sprint release
- see this T-Mobile release
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article
- see this AllThingsD article

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