Still Digging Out From Sandy, Nor’easter

450,000 Customers Remain Without Power
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Cable and telco operators continued to struggle with outages after the one-two punch of Superstorm Sandy and a nor’easter that dumped about a foot of snow in parts of New Jersey and New York last week.

At last count, there were still about 450,000 customers without power as a result of the storm, almost entirely within New York and New Jersey — including several thousand homes that were thrust into darkness after last week’s nor’easter, dubbed Athena by The Weather Channel, dumped up to a foot of heavy, wet snow on the region. That second storm has delayed some cleanup eff orts, and cable and telco repair crews were generally following utility workers into stricken areas.

According to the Associated Press, more than 8 million homes in 21 states were without power in the immediate aftermath of the superstorm. As of early last Friday (Nov. 9), AP said that 200,000 homes in New York, mostly on Long Island, were without power; 250,000 homes in New Jersey were dark; and almost all of Connecticut was back on the grid.

At the MSO hardest hit by Sandy — Cablevision Systems — about 433,000 customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were without power and, subsequently, its Optimum cable service as of Nov. 7 (the latest figures available at press time), a huge improvement over the 1.6 million off the grid on Nov. 1. Of the 2.8 million Cablevision customers that did have power on Nov. 7, nearly 21,000 did not have Optimum service.

Cable operators and telcos across the board have pitched in with free Wi-Fi service and charging stations across the affected regions. At Cablevision, 20,000 hotspots continuously ran through the storm and within seven days, more than 90% of its 50,000 hotspots were active and available to customers. Most operators impacted by the storms also have offered customers credits to their bills for the periods when their service was disrupted.

Cablevision said it would credit customers who called to notify the MSO once their power was restored. Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon Communications all have done the same.

For Time Warner Cable customers in the greater New York area, as service is restored, the company will automatically apply credits for residential customers’ TV, Internet and home phone services (including applicable equipment), and for business customers’ Business Class services in areas where the vast majority of customers experienced an extended outage. This credit will automatically appear on customers’ statements, labeled “Hurricane Sandy Credit.”