Post-Disaster Cellular Provider Recovery: Part 1

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Los Angeles Takes a Stand

A story in the Friday, May 8th, 2015 issue of the Los Angeles Times (L.A. Becomes First U.S. City to Enact Quake Safety Standards for New Cellphone Towers) discusses how on the 8th, “Los Angeles became the first city in the nation to approve seismic standards for new cellphone towers, part of an effort to strengthen communications infrastructure in preparation for the next big quake.”

As the article points out, there has not been a major earthquake in California since cellphones, smartphones, and WiFi have become part of the fabric of modern life. Now that they are, the city is requiring new cell towers to be built to the same standards as public safety facilities. The new standards will not apply to existing cell towers—only to new, freestanding towers.

The Achilles Heel of the new law is that it says nothing about the power failures that would, in all probability, accompany severe seismic activity.

According to the Times, a U.S. Geological Survey report warned that, “power could be cut off for weeks should a magnitude 7.8 earthquake strike the San Andreas fault, rendering swaths of the cellphone networks useless.” Superstorm Sandy was reported to have knocked out power to about 25% of cell sites in the New York area following the hurricane.

“The issue of network resiliency as a whole is a monumentally important one for the company,” Alexandra Krasov, spokeswoman for AT&T, said in the article. Additionally, Verizon Wireless spokesman Ken Muché said that, “Verizon applauds the mayor for his effort to make Los Angeles more earthquake-safe.”

Los Angeles will be taking a number of steps including solar-powered free WiFi. Given that our products are based on cellular networks, we’d like to tell you a bit about what steps major cell providers taking to ensure business continuity.

Find out more in Part 2: COWs, COLTs, and GOATs (A Barnyard for Business Continuity)