Carriers brace for superstorm Katrina

Aug 28 2005 - 01:44 PM ET | Cingular, In The News, Verizon Wireless

US wireless carriers are scrambling to brace their networks as superstorm hurricane Katrina approahces. Rated a 5 out of 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, Katrina packs winds of 175MPH. No matter where it hits, the storm is expected to cause great damage, but forecasters currently predict that New Orleans is directly in her path.

Hurricanes pose multiple problems for wireless carriers. The power grid is unrelialbe so the towers must be operated by generators, but call volume is often near or above peak because wireline phones go down as well.

Some carriers are bringing in extra capacity in the form of portable towers based on the back of trucks or vans. Other preparations include stockpiling fuel to power the generators--a side effect of a storm in the gulf is that 1/3 of US oil production stops. A direct hit to New Orleans could mean no power for weeks. Previously, carriers have donated large amounts of airtime and phones to relief operations.

Here are the carriers that have so far announced hurricane Katrina plans (will be updated as warranted):

Based in Florida, MobileTracker is extra sensative to hurricane news.