FCC: 6,500 cell sites down after Hurricane Irene

The FCC reported Monday that 6,500 cell towers and sites were damaged or affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, which left severe flooding in upstate New York and Vermont in its wake. The updated figures are more than four times the 1,400 cell sites the FCC reported being down on Sunday.

Officials at the FCC updated the count of outages at 3 p.m. EDT Monday, based on reports to the FCC by registered communications providers. FCC spokesman Neil Grace said 44 percent of cell sites in Vermont were down, in addition to 35 percent of the cell sites in Connecticut, 31 percent in Rhode Island and 25 percent in Virginia.

The FCC had warned during the weekend that more disruptions could come. Adm. James Barnett, the chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, had said in a briefing that the commission expected service outages to get worse as backup power for cell sites ran out. Despite the outages, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) released statements saying that crews were working to repair their cell sites and that there had been no significant network outages.

In the aftermath of the storm, the FCC deployed four vans equipped with spectrum analyzers on the East Coast to check on the status of wireless networks. The vans, part of what the FCC calls Project Roll Call, provide first responders and carrier repair teams status updates on the networks.

For more:
- see this Computerworld article
- see this NextGov article

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