AT&T, Verizon Phase Out Copper Networks, 'A Lifeline' After Sandy

Posted in: Miscellaneous at 10/11/2012 22:52

For several days after Hurricane Sandy, Donna Cardillo struggled to make contact with the outside world.

At her home in Wall Township, N.J., which was hit hard by the storm, wireless service failed, rendering her cellphone useless. She also lost power, causing her Internet-based landline to go dead.

But just a few miles away, her parents, who are in their 80s, had no problems communicating. They could make and receive calls during the power outage because they still rely on an old form of technology: a corded telephone that runs on copper wires.

"It was really a lifeline for my parents," Cardillo said.

The divide beween Cardillo and her parents after the storm illustrates one of the major concerns with the reliability of the new telecommunications infrastructure, consumer advocates say. Phone companies are phasing out their aging copper-line networks and moving customers to either wireless service or landline phones that run over the Internet. But the newer technology relies on something that didn't exist for days across the Northeast: electricity. After the storm, Cardillo's parents found that their phones worked only because copper wires carried electricity from the phone companies' offices.

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