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FCC

Power Outages Dog Communications Restoration in NY, NJ

Communications are slowly being restored in the storm-ravaged areas of the Northeast, but wide portions of people continue to experience problems as power remains spotty.

"Our assessment indicates steady improvements in wireline and wireless communications networks throughout the affected area," Federal Communications Commission Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief David Turetsky said, citing data collected as of Thursday morning. "However, restoration efforts in the hardest hit areas--including New York and New Jersey--continues to be more difficult."

He said cell site outages had declined from about 25 percent of all monitored sites to roughly 19 percent. Some of those sites are technically operational, but are out of service because of their connections to nonoperational sites. Cable service outages have also declined from 25 percent to about 12 to 14 percent, according to the FCC.

911 call centers, which had experienced outages of their own during Hurricane Sandy, are largely back on-line, but some issues remain.

"Overall, we're seeing both continued improvement in communications networks and also that much work remains to be done to restore service fully," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "The supply of fuel to generators is essential to keep communications service up and running, and we're working with federal, state, and local authorities to speed fuel delivery."

Telecommunications companies also reported that the power supply is key to restoring their networks, and carriers are employing temporary measures in the meantime.

Several carriers were providing generators for people to charge their mobile devices, and some used mobile pods to provide temporary wireless service.

AT&T reported that the "vast majority" of its network is working, Verizon said 96 percent of its cell sites are operational. T-Mobile reported that 85 percent of its network in New York City is operational, and 80 percent operational on Staten Island. Sprint said 80 percent of its network is working in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, while networks in outlying states are at 90 percent.

Carriers were also taking steps like waiving late fees for customers in affected areas.

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