WSJ US BusinessHurricane Ida’s Power Outages Slow Efforts to Restore Cellphone Service

August 31, 20210

Roughly half of cellular sites remained out of service Tuesday in New Orleans, federal regulators said, as lingering power outages after Hurricane Ida slowed efforts to restore communications links.

The regulators said that across the broader affected region, 17% of wireless transmitters were offline nearly 48 hours after the Category 4 storm made landfall Sunday.

A day after the storm, 28% of cellular transmitters were offline. The figures didn’t include temporary cell sites installed in Ida’s wake.

The towns of Thibodaux, Houma and other southeastern Louisiana communities still lacked reliable wireless service as of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to the latest Federal Communications Commission update. Lack of electrical power was the most common culprit, followed by interruption of the landlines that link them to the outside world.

The downed infrastructure reveals the limits to improvements that wireless companies have added to their disaster-recovery plans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That deadly storm flooded much of New Orleans, knocked some 911 call centers offline and cut off mobile and landline service for more than 1.8 million people.

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