Cable Ops Brace For SandyAs Hurricane Bears Down on East Coast, MSOs Prepare For High Winds, Flooding 10/29/2012 8:15 AM Eastern
Cable operators up and down the East Coast were preparing for the wrath of Hurricane Sandy as it moved closer to shore Monday, bringing with it torrential rains and high winds.
Sandy was expected to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast later this evening (Monday) or tonight, packing gale-force winds, torrential rains – some mid-Atlantic states were expected to see as much as 12 inches of rain – and creating storm surges in coastal areas that are expected to cause widespread flooding.
The effects of the storm were expected to be felt as far south as North Carolina and north to Maine, with up to three feet of snow also expected in mountainous parts of West Virginia.
Comcast, which has several operations in the path of the storm – including Southern New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia – said in a statement that efforts are underway to prepare for Sandy.
“Comcast is preparing for the storm and is ready to support our customers by responding quickly to any impact it may have on our service,” spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said in an e-mail message. “We are taking incremental measures to ensure we are best equipped to manage this storm while keeping the safety of our employees and customers a top priority. This includes increasing staffing and strategically placing employees in key locations throughout the company, preparing back-up generators and other supplies and coordinating closely with power companies and local and state emergency workers.”
Comcast also has been placing outbound calls to customer in areas impacted by Sandy to let them know the company is tracking the storm, preparing to support them and letting them know that they can visit www.comcast.com from any mobile device to receive updates on outages and other important information about their service. In addition, customers can use the company’s text alert feature (www.comcast.com/alerts) to check for outages in their area.
Cablevision Systems, which has about 3 million customers in Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens in New York as well as in parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, is informing customers in advance that in the event of a service outage, they too can access information on smartphones and IPads. For those that still have service, the company added that its News 12 channels will continue to provide up to the minute local information on the storm.
“With the coming storm all over the news, you're probably worried about potential power outages that could affect your TV, phone and internet service. Rest assured, we're already making preparations,” Cablevision said in an e-mail message to customers on Sunday. “After all, we live here too. And as your local TV, phone and internet company, we understand how important it is for you to stay connected. So, for up-to-the-minute local coverage if and when the storm hits, visit www.news12.com. If unpreventable service outages do occur, know that we'll be working around the clock to restore your service. You can also visit www.optimum.net for service updates. For other helpful storm tips, click here. We'll be monitoring where and when outages occur, so you can focus on riding out the storm safely.”
Cox Communications, which has operations in New England and Virginia in the path of the storm, is also keeping a close eye on Sandy.
“Cox Communications continues preparations to ensure that we are able to fully meet the needs of our business and residential customers during and after Hurricane Sandy,” the company said on its web site. “Our Business Continuity Plan has been implemented. This plan guides the company during emergency situations such as hurricanes.”
Cox closed its Virginia Beach Cox Solutions Store at 5 p.m. on Oct. 28 to prepare for the storm, but said that other stores, if operational, throughout its affected service area will open in the event of significant power outages to provide the community with access to WiFi and the ability to charge mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets or laptop computers.
“We are continuing to closely monitor the weather situation so that we may respond appropriately when the time comes,” the company continued. “We are fully staffed with Cox field technicians and maintenance crews. We have built flexibility into our plans and will adjust them based on the strength and severity of the storm. We also have additional operational crews on stand-by, ready to execute our recovery plan following the storm.”
Like other operators in the affected areas, Cox warned that the MSO’s ability to restore service is tied to the restoration of electric service in the affected area.
“We also partner with numerous emergency management agencies for our recovery efforts,” Cox said on its Web site. “As a result of this storm, there likely will be outages and we want to alert customers now to Cox’s recovery response plan and process. We ask for patience and cooperation as we work to ensure the safest and most effective operations before and after the storm event.”
Time Warner Cable, which has more than 1 million customers in the New York metro area, preparation for the storm began early last week.
“We have a series of emergency management and business continuity plans, which have been activated to ensure that we do three things. First and foremost we want to ensure the safety of our employees. Second we want to provide any assistance we can to emergency management personnel in affected communities. Finally, we are prepared to begin making any necessary repairs to our network as soon as it is safe to do so,” said spokesman Alex Dudley in an e-mail message. “Communication with customers began late last week via email, our website and blog, and will continue throughout the storm as necessary. Call centers are staffed in anticipation on higher than usual volume, and contingencies to roll calls to unaffected areas are in place.”
Dudley noted that TWC has a long history of dealing effectively with weather related issues and believes its teams are as prepared as they can be.