With millions without power and at least 50 reported dead, the Sandy superstorm is one of the most devastating weather events to hit the United States mainland. At last report, more than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 different states and many Canadians were impacted by the storm as well.
The telecommunications sector was far from immune, of course.
When the storm made landfall, it flooded data centres in New York City and subsequently took down a pile of websites and Internet services.
Several websites that housed services at Manhattan’s Datagram data centre saw outages. The basement of the facility was “inundated” by the storm, but the company confirmed that no customers lost data and stated that it was working to restore emergency power. Many complained about Datagram’s use of a low-lying area to house a data centre in the first place, but cost is generally a factor.
“In an ideal world, people select data centers based on their tolerance of natural disasters,” said George Reese, chief technology officer at enStratus. “In reality, real estate and power costs drive data center locations, with disasters being something you prepare for…The critical thing is that you should never have all your data in one location or even in two locations susceptible to the same disaster.”
Verizon Communications was one of the worst hit by storm damage, with flooding in several central offices hitting Lower Manhattan, Queens and Long Island. There were no comprehensive numbers as to exactly how many customers were affected, but Verizon stated that there were heavy service losses that included television, Internet and traditional landline phone services.
“I think, everybody’s equipment’s going to be damaged including cellphone towers,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King said. “Particularly for Verizon, they’re clearly going to have the most damage on the wireline side because it’s pretty much all of their territory (where the storm hit).”
“Verizon is discovering that many poles and power lines/Verizon cables are down throughout the region due to heavy winds and falling trees,” the company said in a statement.
Number three U.S. mobile provider Sprint Nextel said that it had outages at some cell sites as well. They closed some 180 stores ahead of the storm.
Cell phone service was “spotty” for customers of almost all American carriers, while Time Warner Cable said that it hadn’t seen any major damage to its infrastructure.
The scope of the storm has yet to be revealed, but there’s no question that its damage will be felt for a long time. Its impact on the world of telecommunications and technology is considerable, but it’s not over yet. The storm is moving into Canada and its footprint will certainly be felt over the days to come.
For those of our readers affected by the storm, please know that the thoughts of The Telecom Blog staff are with you all. And for those looking for ways to help, there are many opportunities to check out at this link. Stay safe!