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FCC: Sandy-Related Cable Outages Fall 'Well Under' 20%

Cable video, phone and broadband outages from superstorm Sandy
as of 10 a.m. ET Wednesday had
dropped "well under" 20% of subs in the core area of the storm's
impact, according to David Turetsky, chief of the FCC's Public Safety and
Homeland Security Bureau.

That is down from an average of 25% as of 10
a.m. Tuesday, when the FCC provided its first post-storm update.
The FCC's emergency operations center has been manned 24/7 to provide
assistance, including temporary authority for spectrum use. 

In a conference call with reporters updating the state of communications in the
wake of the storm, Turetsky said the good news was that the situation was
improving. The FCC had suggested Tuesday that the situation might get worse
before it got better. He said be believed that the figure for cable outages in
that core area, defined as 158 counties across 10 states from Virginia and
Massachusetts, included both problems at the system end and power outages at
consumers' end, but was checking at press time. 

Wireless outages were down "a few percentage points" -- three or
four, he estimated -- from the 25% figure on Tuesday. He said that was in part
because companies were bringing in backup generators and that continuing
problems could be attributed to a combination of factors, including lack of
power, damage to equipment of lack of connectivity to other parts of the

He pointed out the figures were an average, and that in New
York and New Jersey
the numbers would be higher and it would take longer 
to bring them down, pointing out that some plant there was still under

There were only a handful of broadcast station outages, though of course power
outages would affect the consumer side of that equation for all but those with
battery-powered TVs.

Turetsky said that AT&T & T-Mobile had also taken the extraordinary
measure of agreeing to a roaming and mobile capacity sharing agreement to try
and boost their respective services. 

Following the conference, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressed his
"deepest condolences" to those who lost loved ones to the storm,
thanked first responders and said the FCC would continue to assess and respond
in its aftermath,  

"Overall, the condition of our communications networks is improving, but
serious outages remain, particularly in New York, New Jersey, and other
hard-hit areas," he said. "We are continuing to work closely with
FEMA and our other federal, state, and local partners - as well as
communications companies - in response efforts. In the days and weeks ahead, we
will continue to expect the unexpected as the full picture of Hurricane Sandy's
impact on communications networks develops. The crisis is not over. We'll
continue to be intensely focused on helping with the full recovery of wired and
wireless communications infrastructure."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.