Verizon Hardest Hit as Telcos Scramble to Recover from Hurricane Sandy

Updated: 10:15 a.m. ET, Nov. 1

The nation’s telcos continue to plug away at the massive job of restoring service after Hurricane Sandy blasted the Eastern Seaboard Monday night.

Verizon released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying it’s making progress.

“Our wireless network has performed well in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Due in large part to the billions of dollars of investment made to our Northeast Wireless Network, including the installation of permanent backup generators at most cell sites, more than 94 percent of our towers from Maine to Virginia are currently operational and supporting customers,” the carrier announced.

Verizon was probably the worst hit of the biggest telcos, experiencing flooding at central offices in New York City that are home to telecom equipment. The lobby in its downtown headquarters had three feet of water in it.

All of that chaos resulted in spotty coverage for customers.

“Sandy has left a trail of destruction throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with historic flooding in New York and New Jersey and a hurricane-fueled snowstorm in southwest Virginia and western Maryland,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s consumer and mass business division. “We are asking the public to remain focused on staying safe as there may be dangerous conditions such as fallen trees or power lines. Our dedicated employees from technicians to customer service consultants run to a crisis and will continue to do what it takes to put customers back in touch.”

AT&T said it got its crews on the ground quickly after the storm passed, and it too, was slowly, but surely, having success restoring service.

“We are making progress in areas that were especially hard-hit, including New York City and New Jersey, where flooding, power loss, transportation and debris all pose challenges. We are working around the clock, including conducting ongoing damage assessment, rapid deployment of generators and equipment, and movement of key personnel from around the region and country, such as engineers and technicians, in order to restore service as quickly as possible,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The carrier also announced it would extend the late-payment window for wireless and wireline customers who are behind, waive late payment fees and will not disconnect services because of non-payment.

T-Mobile announced Wednesday that its wireless network is more than 90 percent operational in Washington, D.C., and 80 percent in New York City. Restoration work continues in the harder hit areas of lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island, coastal and Northern New Jersey, Connecticut and portions of Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

T-Mobile rapid response engineering teams have staged equipment throughout the areas most severely impacted and continue to make assessments regarding how quickly we may be able to begin restoration, and where it is needed most, America’s fourth-largest carrier said.

“T-Mobile is ensuring that all our customers in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, whether contract or prepaid customers, continue to be able to use their service regardless of any inability to make payments on their accounts, until Nov. 8,” T-Mobile stated.

AT&T and T-Mobile announced Wednesday afternoon an agreement to enable roaming on their networks to customers of both companies in the heavily impacted areas of New York City and New Jersey. Subscribers don’t have to do anything different; just make a call and whichever network is stronger in a given area will pick up the call. You won’t be charged anything extra, even if you’re an AT&T customer and see “T-Mobile” pop up on your phone, and vice versa. T-Mobile and AT&T both use network technology based on GSM and UMTS standards, which allows for this unusual partnership where voice and data traffic can be shared.

Sprint has seen outages at some cell sites throughout the region due to power outages. Their crews are trying to “get to everywhere they need to be,” a spokesman for the Overland Park, Kan.-based operator told Reuters.

All in all, it’s going to be a long effort for clean-up crews, but the telcos say they are well on their way to getting their customers connected once again.

**Editor’s Note:

Click here

to see how some of America’s biggest CLECs are dealing with Sandy.**

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