Thursday, September 08, 2005

Why New Orleans Cell Phones Aren't Working (Slate)

You might want to change your number.
By Daniel Engber
Posted Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005, at 3:47 PM PT

Cellular service disruptions along the Gulf Coast have made communication even more difficult for the million people who lost their landlines to Hurricane Katrina. Mobiles are unusable in many of the flooded areas. And some New Orleans residents who got out of the city have reported problems using their cell phones, even in regions that Katrina left unscathed. Why have cell phones been so affected by the flood?

Because the water damaged both land-line and cellular equipment. If water has destroyed the electronics at the bases of the cell-phone towers nearest to where you are, you won't be able to use your phone at all. (Even the equipment that stays dry may face a loss of power—rooftop cell-phone stations tend not to have their own generators.) If you do make it out of the flooded areas, your cell phone may be hampered by its disaster-ridden area code. Calls to cell phones get routed through local land lines, so phones programmed with New Orleans area codes (504 and 985) will have problems receiving calls wherever they are. ( more...)

Grace E. Lee