Dubbed as the “Perfect Storm 2’, Hurricane Sandy pummelled the North-Eastern coast of the US, destroying millions of homes, claiming over a hundred lives, and leaving millions of American without power and communications. Telecom operators are now struggling to restore wireless service after the super storm battered the northeast region early last week.
According to one of the largest telecom companies AT&T, 95.6% of cell stations in the affected areas are now working. Most of their engineers are now focused in the New York and New Jersey areas which suffered from a powerful storm surge which flooded the subway lines and tunnels.
The rest of the major wireless carriers are also offering free charging at their stores for customers still without electricity. T-Mobile has started providing charging and calling services in American Red Cross shelters in NJ. Verizon is also planning to re-focus efforts in NY and NJ as service is restored in less-severely affected parts of the Northeast.
Just 14 months after Hurricane Irene threatened the Northeast coast of the US, a bigger tropical storm is roaring its way towards the seaboard prompting evacuations in major cities like Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and New York City. Mass public transportation systems are also being shut down as Hurricane Sandy threatens major infrastructure damage, storm surges, and coastal flooding.
Many telecom companies are readying the arrival of the storm dubbed “Frankenstorm” which is expected to cause extensive damage even outside the storm’s centre. The threats to their networks could cost the companies millions without adequate preparation. Already, resource and personnel are being sent to critical parts of the network to help respond to any emergencies.
Strong winds, rain, and even possible snowfall may threaten telephone lines and even wireless networks across the Eastern seaboard. Telecom operators said generators are already being fueled, and emergency systems are being tested to help manage and maintain network traffic during the storm.
T-Mobile USA, have set up regional Command Centres to respond to any crisis situation Hurricane Sandy will cause. AT&T, on the other hand, has readied disaster response equipment, and its personnel are working closely with regional emergency operations centers to help maintain service and provide temporary repairs on telecom networks. Sprint Nextel is also working with various organizations and agencies requiring communications assistance.
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Taiwanese legislators expressed their worries over the Chinese telecom sector after last week’s release of a US congressional report saying two of China’s largest telecom operators, Huawei and ZTE, posed security threats to America through the use of “backdoor” systems in the equipment being sold.
Hsu Chung-hsin, from the Taiwan Solidarity Union, opposed plans by the national government allowing China to continue investing in the island-nation’s telecom industry. The Taiwanese government is working on the details of opening Type 1 Telecommunications enterprises to Chinese investors.
Hsu cited the recent US intelligence report that Chinese telecom operators were using the equipment they sold to business and government agencies for espionage purposes. The year-long investigation on Huawei and ZTE by the US House of Representatives recommended that both telecom operators be barred from any business activities like mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers in the US Market.
Critiques of the report point out to the timing of its release, as Huawei mulls over an IPO in the States.
According to Hsu, confidential information being held by the Taiwanese government may be compromised in Chinese investment was allowed. He further recommended that the government pass an economic espionage act to protect local businesses from the possible Type 1 investment plans.
Huawei has long penetrated the Taiwanese market. Majority of the island’s 3G wireless network cards are manufactured by the Chinese telecom giant. It has also secured millions of dollars in wireless equipment contracts from Taiwanese telecom operators.