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Sen. Schumer: Cell Towers Should Have Backup Power To Prevent Widespread Service Outages Like After Sandy

Sen. Schumer FCC news conference Nov. 18, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Sen. Schumer FCC news conference Nov. 18, 2012 (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, cell phone service was disrupted across the Tri-State Area.

The strong winds and flooding damaged some of the infrastructure used by cell phone providers.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

Sen. Charles Schumer has called on the Federal Communications Commission to require cell phone service providers have backup emergency power sources to prevent this type of disruption from occurring again.

“There’s going to be a day when there’s going to be no landlines,” Schumer told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “It was a virtual communications blackout. People were struggling to find out information and couldn’t.”

Schumer urged the FCC and the telecommunications industry to work together to find a reliable solution at minimal cost.

“On Long Island, for instance, when power went out, the cell phone towers went out because they depend on connections to the power lines. If they had an auxiliary generator, many of them would go on,” Schumer said.

Schumer was joined at the news conference by affected Rockaway Beach residents and Long Beach first responders.

“One woman two days after the storm walked over a mile and a half to come to the police station to report that her mother had passed,” Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said.

When Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, about a quarter of cell phone customers were without service, some for days, according to officials.

“My stepmother, she attempted to call 911 to get an ambulance to come to the house. She could not and what she had to do, she had to walk six blocks where she knew there was a staging area where the NYPD had set up,” a resident of the Rockaways told Miller.

A spokesman for the FCC said the agency will look at whether to require backup power.

Schumer said a nationwide plan to require power reserves for cell towers would help ensure no disruption in coverage following severe weather, a terrorist attack or any other events that may cause power failures.

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