Sandy Insight Into VoIP

Hurricane Sandy played havoc with communications up and down the East Coast of the United States. That’s hardly news.

What I’m waiting to see, though, is the eventual tally of reporting of the outages, under the Federal Communications Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). That should give us some good insight into the impact of Sandy on broadband and VoIP, compared to the impact on traditional phone systems.

As the father of one child who was caught in the middle of the storm … indeed, of a wheelchair-bound daughter stranded on the sixth floor of an apartment building in Manhattan when the power went out … I know well that she lost not only power, and broadband, and VoIP, and traditional phone service for the cousins she was staying with, but wireless as well when AT&T’s service was disrupted. Verizon’s wireless in that neighborhood interestingly did work, but without electricity to recharge the single Verizon phone one member of the family had, that was barely consolation.

In any case, the reports resulting from the FCC’s activation of the DIRS reporting system (http://transition.fcc.gov/files/documents/DIRS-Activation-PN-Sandy.pdf) should prove instructive.

I also note that participation in DIRS is voluntary, and it’s unknown how many VoIP providers have so far signed up. The FCC does have other outage reporting requirements. Those don’t yet cover VoIP on a mandatory basis, but they soon will, on Dec. 16, too late to assess results from Sandy.

Still, with luck the FCC will soon be issuing a report based on DIRS which could be of major help to the telecom industry in assessing those weaknesses that are yet to be addressed by our current technology.