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Hurricane Sandy Damages Broadband Infrastructure in New York and New Jersey

Major Providers Pledge Prompt Service Restoration and Bill Credits

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Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have caused over $30 billion in damages, including damages to broadband and cellular network infrastructure, leaving many customers in New York and New Jersey without broadband service to access the Internet for important news and information about relief and restoration efforts.

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All four of the major cell phone companies in New York City and New Jersey said subscribers in parts of their service territories hit experienced storm related outages. In New York City, residents in downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens reported that AT&T's wireless service was unavailable. Shortly after the storm, AT&T quickly confirmed that there were outages in some areas.

According to an assessment by AT&T shortly after the storm: "As we continue to closely monitor our wireline and wireless networks for service disruptions, we are experiencing some issues in areas heavily impacted by the storm," the company said in a release immediately after the storm passed. We are in the initial stages of performing an on-the-ground assessment of our network for damage and crews will be working around the clock to restore service. We are deploying personnel and equipment as soon as it is safe to do so."

After several weeks of restoration progress, all four companies have been keeping customers updated on restoration efforts, emphasizing the degree of damage and the unprecedented damage. Verizon even posted videos on YouTube demonstrating the extent of the damage, while emphasizing the level of response form its employees

According to a recent Verizon update ,repair crews have completed 364,000 post-storm repairs across the regions damaged by the storm, and more than 1.4 million customers impacted by power outages have had their FiOS services restored.

Verizon also reported they purchased 8,500 poles since Sandy struck, compared with a monthly average of approximately 2,000 poles. The company also purchased 50,000 aerial fiber-optic drop lines that are being placed to re-connect homes and businesses to the company's fiber network. By comparison, in the prior six months before Sandy, Verizon used 68,000 aerial fiber drops. Verizon technicians have also used more than 14 million feet of wire, compared with just over 2 million feet in an average month prior to Sandy.

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Cablevision reports that it may lose as much as $40 million on Hurricane Sandy related costs, According to industry analysts, the storm will cost broadband, telephone and cable companies as much as $600 million in repair and cleanup expenses.

As a result of storm related damage, many telephone, broadband and cable companies will offer credits to customers who lost service as a result of the storm. The companies announcing plans to offer credits include Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and Cablevision Systems.

The companies will provide credits to customers even if the outage was the result of a power failure. In addition DirecTV and Dish Network, the two largest U.S. satellite-TV providers, as well as Verizon Communications Inc.’s adopted similar policies.

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According to a statement from Cablevision:

“Many of our customers have been severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Kristin Dolan, Cablevision’s senior executive vice president of product management and marketing, said in a statement. “In addition, customers will not be responsible for any damage to Cablevision equipment caused by the storm, and will be able to exchange damaged equipment at no cost.”

According to a Comcast statement:

“Our hearts go out to our customers impacted by the storm, and we want to do everything we can to make things even a little easier as they go through this difficult time,” said Jenni Moyer, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Comcast. “Customers can contact us and identify the time period during which they did not have access to Comcast services to receive a credit. We will work with each customer who contacts us so we can be sensitive to their specific needs and circumstances."

As a direct result of the outages experienced by the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the FCC pledged to hold hearings to determine if broadband networks are resilient enough to withstand damage from future storms

FCC to Holds Hearings to Determine Resiliency of Broadband Networks in the United States

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