Cell Phone Not Working? Blame “Sandy”

If you’ve been having more dropped calls or poorer cell reception over the past few days, it may not be your phone that’s at fault. federal regulators say “Sandy” knocked out a quarter of the cell towers between Massachusetts and Virginia…and the situation could get worse before it gets better. even though we think of cell technology as a wireless system, all the equipment, including a hard-wired land line, runs on electricity. And with the millions of homes and businesses without power,” hundreds of towers have also been put out of commission. And that’s affecting mobile reception across the northeast. Dennis Teichert is president of Berkshire Wireless, a telecommunications construction company in Pittsfield.
“Each cell site runs approximately, you know, a mile and a half, two miles tops before it hands off to the next site. So if you get a site down, you’ll get dropped calls. If you get multiple sites in a region or a cluster that is down, there just will be no  service in that area.”
Teichert says wireless carriers use different systems, and generators as back up power for their towers, but they all rely on some kind of fuel to keep them running. Teichert says there’s concern the fuel supply could run out before power is restored.
“The bigger thing right now since it just happened is just more accessibility into the sites. You know, are the trees still down or can you get there is the question.”
Teichert says power is not the only concern. Te says some towers may have also sustained damage to equipment from water, highs winds or fallen trees caused by the storm.