After any major incident or natural disaster it’s common to hear reports of thousands of people without power, but if that’s the case, why do their cell phones still work? Assuming the cell phone is charged, many cellular phone users will be able to make calls, text, and even surf the web when their local power is out. That’s because cell towers are protected from local power outages with backup generators and batteries.
Protecting cell towers from power loss is no accident. After 2005’s Hurricane Katrina took out 70% of the cell towers in New Orleans, cellular service providers realized they had a problem. If you remember, the aftermath of Katrina was complete chaos. This was for many reasons, but one of the biggest problems was the lack of communication between people, government agencies, and first responders. Without cellular phone access, it was very difficult to coordinate rescue efforts and organize evacuations.
In response, the federal government, via the FCC released the “Katrina Panel Order” in 2007, which recommended, among other things, that nearly all U.S. cell phone towers be outfitted with at least eight hours of backup power. Unfortunately, the order never became law.
Still, this didn’t prevent cellular carriers for taking matters into their own hands and installing backup generators or batteries that can keep towers operational even when the local grid goes down. The aftermath of disasters like Katrina, Sandy, and Matthew has led to the creation of ever more robust backup power plans and systems for cell towers and an increase in redundancy. Even if a tower has power, it could still be damaged or knocked over. Still, the redundancy that is built into cellular networks simply shifts those calls to an operational tower. The resulting service may be slow and spotty, but it least it works!
Even Small Scale Backup Generators Provide Critical Protections
You don’t have to be a major cellular service provider to benefit from the protection that backup generators provide. Even the smallest of businesses can use backup generators to keep the doors open and the lights on in the event of a localized power failure. If your business is one that would benefit from remaining open during the aftermath of an emergency or natural disaster, a generator is an investment well worth making.