Could dangerous cell phone outages have been prevented?


After swearing up and down that they’d learned their lesson after Hurricane Katrina, the cell phone industry has egg on its face in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The industry used its considerable lobbying power to fight service reliability rules that were supposed to go into effect following the disaster after Katrina. So in the days leading up to Sandy, they said, “We’re fine, we got all kinds of back-up systems. Everything’s going to be OK.”

And then it wasn’t.

With more than one in three people being cell only, this is an uncomfortable situation. The funny thing is, for as much as I try to dissuade people from having a landline, the copper wire in an Alexander Graham Bell phone has enough power to keep the phone working even when you have no power at home.

So maybe I have egg on my face with my longstanding advice too!

Meanwhile, the cell industry may be ready to acknowledge that not having the service reliability rules in place was an empty victory. After all, this storm was a Category 1 storm, not a 4 or 5, and the industry was unprepared. They didn’t want to spend the money to prepare.

It’s the same thing with the gas stations.

If you follow what’s going on in New Jersey with the gas shortages, it’s because the oil industry made the decision not to have emergency backup supplies on hand because that was not deemed to be  a cost-effective use of their money. Fortunately, this will be a very temporary phenomenon.

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