A rare October snow storm knocked out power to more than half the state Sunday, repeating a nightmare scenario that the state’s two largest cellular phone carriers had to deal with when Tropical Storm Irene passed through the region in August.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reported Sunday afternoon that 164 of AT&T’s cellular towers were knocked out by the storm – about half the number disabled during Irene. Company officials acknowledged Sunday that a bulk of their service interruptions were due to a lack of commercial power at cellular towers and connection stations.
“We’ve deployed generators throughout the region. As soon as road conditions clear and it’s safe to do so, we’ll begin dispatching technicians,” said AT&T spokeswoman Meghan Wims in an emailed statement this afternoon.
AT&T suffered an extended outage during Irene when it did not have enough backup generators to power all of the towers impacted by the storm.
Verizon Wireless spokesman Michael Murphy said his company’s network is performing well in the wake of the storm, but outages have been reported in some communities.
“Similar to Tropical Storm Irene, we are again leveraging permanent backup generators at many cell sites to maintain service for customers despite widespread commercial power outages,” Murphy said.
Neither company would comment on the specific number of tower or service outages. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton tweeted that Verizon was bringing in two portable cell towers, adding that Verizon service is suffering an outage in portions of the city.
Cellular service has multiple failure points. Towers are connected via hard wires to the carrier’s network, so wiring damage or power issues at an “upstream” connection hub can knock out service even if the tower itself is functioning.
Verizon claims that 90 percent of their New England cellular towers have permanent backup power generation. Wims did not comment on whether AT&T will install permanent power backups at its Connecticut cellular sites in the future.