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Service Providers Assess Sandy's Impact

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Service providers along the Northeastern U.S. on Wednesday continued to survey and respond to the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, the biggest storm ever to hit the region.

Roughly 25 percent of the cell towers in 10 states and about a quarter of cable services in those areas were knocked out during the storm, according to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimate generated by reports from the region's telecommunications companies. Power utilities are making progress, but estimates indicate that resulting power outages affected as many as 8 million customers. Some areas could be without power for a period of days or weeks.

Here's an update on how some of the area's service providers are dealing with the aftermath of the storm:

  • Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which is keeping customers updated at Optimum.net said it experienced "regional service interruptions, primarily related to the loss of power. Where conditions allow, Cablevision crews are in the field and are working around-the-clock to restore Optimum TV, phone and Internet service, in close coordination with local utilities."

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) likewise said most issues are directly related to power outages, and that cable service should be restored as power comes back online. "We will continue working with local, state and federal officials, including FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security and the FCC, as well as with the power companies to assess damage and restore service as quickly and safely as possible," the company said, in a statement. To help residents and emergency personnel deal with the aftermath of the storm, Comcast is opening up its Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots "where available along the East Coast to anyone who needs them, even if they are not customers."

  • Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) reported that the storm "caused significant damage to Verizon locations and equipment along the East Coast. Many areas have experienced significant flooding due to the hurricane and storm surge." Verizon said its techs are working "around the clock to restore services." For those who are stuck at home and want to catch a video-on-demand movie, Verizon acknowledged that some customers may have trouble ordering a title due to high volume on the network, but noted that engineers have added VoD capacity to help deal with the influx.

  • For Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) there were "no significant network issues" produced by the storm, as services will likely be restored in affected areas as soon as power comes back online, a company spokesman said Wednesday. But the company will reassess the situation and make repairs as needed as electricity returns in impacted systems. Because of the storm, TW Cable has rescheduled the release of its third-quarter results to Monday, Nov. 5. The MSO was originally scheduled to release them today.

  • Cox Communications Inc. said it is still assessing the impact of the storm on systems serving Rhode Island, Connecticut and Ohio, but that technicians have already identified "several areas" where Sandy has inflicted damage on the network.

    Update: Here is Cox's service status as of Wednesday morning:
    • It's "business as usual" in Hampton Roads and Roanoke, Va.
    • More more than 98 percent of Cox customers in Northern Virginia have working service in Northern Virginia
    • Approximately 87 percent of customers in Rhode Island have working service
    • More than 95 percent of customers in Connecticut have working service
    • Approximately 70 percent of Cox customers in the Cleveland-area suburbs have working service

    In all of the above Cox markets, the remaining portions of those service areas are down due to a power or network issue. In the case of the Cleveland suburbs, the power company is telling the MSO that "significant restoration efforts" won't be getting underway until Thursday.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:18:24 PM
    re: Service Providers Assess Sandy's Impact

    Still blinking at how we dodged this bullet in VA; also how the storm got dragged into the mid-west (OH) where looks like recovery in Cox systems is slower than elsewhere. 

    User Rank: Blogger
    12/5/2012 | 5:18:22 PM
    re: Service Providers Assess Sandy's Impact

    Our power came back on last night in the northern NYC suburbs (which we're dubbing The Halloween Miracle) and I was pleasantly surprised to find all Cablevision services up and running. Cablevision's Westchester County hub in Mamaroneck, NY is in an area prone to flooding but we didn't get much water. Still, I don't know how their satellite dishes remained grounded in the high winds.

    Cell service remains spotty, with emails, texts and voicemails coming through in bursts. Since so many people are relying solely on their cellphones, I imagine the strain on servers and mobile backhaul is intense.

    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/5/2012 | 5:18:17 PM
    re: Service Providers Assess Sandy's Impact

    I heard from friends in NJ that if the local Verizon CO was not flooded FiOS service was not interrupted (until the ONU's batteries drained at least) since there is no network powered equpiment to worry about.  Not the same for Comcast and Time Warner.  Anyone have actual facts/experience?

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