Hurricane Sandy damages crucial wireless and Internet infrastructure

By on October 31, 2012, 2:30 PM

Hurricane Sandy left a path of destruction in the American northeast as heavy flooding and powerful winds destroyed homes and left millions without power. The superstorm was also responsible for disrupting wireless and Internet service throughout much of the region.

During a conference call with members of the press, Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski said the storm has had a serious impact on the nation’s communications infrastructure. It was revealed that roughly 25 percent of cell phone towers spread across 10 east coast states have been damaged or destroyed thus far.

It’s a problem that’s likely to get worse before it gets better. The storm, albeit much weaker, is still very much alive and kicking. That fact combined with continued flooding and snowfall could make it extremely difficult to gain access to and repair damaged towers.

Several data centers were also affected by Sandy as the storm made landfall. Web hosting company Datagram was one of the worst hit as the company’s basement, which houses the building’s fuel tank pumps and sump pumps, became fully submerged with flood waters.

They were forced to shut down to avoid a potential fire and permanent damage, taking down a number of popular sites like Buzzfeed, Gawker, Gizmodo and the Huffington Post in the process. As of writing, most appear to be fully functional although Gizmodo is running a modified version of their page referred to as “Sandy 2012 Emergency Site.”

Brokers on the New York Stock Exchange are also feeling the effects of Sandy. Bloomberg says that Internet and mobile phone connections were limited on the trading floor this morning. Clients are still able to send orders through the exchange network but the order management system which relies on an Internet connection is remains down. Clients will be required to call in their orders for this system until a connection with the outside world can be reestablished.

User Comments: 5

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Guest said:

When you thought of every single back up plan it all fails

Pan Wah said:

I wonder what the last two Guest postings were about? They don't seem to say anything!

Doctor John Doctor John said:

I wonder what the last two Guest postings were about? They don't seem to say anything!

I guess the two Guests have been storm damaged?

gobbybobby said:

Just shows that hosting company's need to have backups of data in other parts of the country and or world, so the downtime to websites is minimal. If areas of Places like New york are likely to see flooding again (and its happened once it will happen again) Internet infrastructure, and all infrastructure for that matter, power sub station, Internet exchanges, data centers need to be built either water tight, or on the upper floors of buildings so they don't flood.

Its like here in the UK in 2007, there was a massive regional flood in the south West, it ended up flooding a water treatment works and leaving everyone without any water for almost a month while all the pumps ETC where replaced. To stop it happening again large flood defenses where put around the facility, and an expensive new pipeline ran from another area so that water could be rerouted if the facility was flooded again. Also a major substation that routed power around the entire county (a county is similar to a State) came inches from flooding, as a precaution it was also flood reinforced so it will not flood in the future Lessons can be learned from events like these so they don't happen again.

Naturally things like mobile telecommunication towers could become wind damaged, thats to be expected and I can't see what can be done about that, other than having some plans in place to have them quickly repaired once the storm has passed.

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