October 30, 2012 / 1:40 PM / 7 years ago

Hurricane Sandy disrupts Northeast US telecom networks

* Flood damages Verizon backup generators in NYC

* AT&T, T-Mobile USA customers say service is spotty

* Cablevision, Sprint see widespread issues

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Power outages and flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy disrupted telecommunications services on Tuesday and coverage was spotty for everything from cellphones and home telephones to Internet services in Northeastern states.

Verizon Communications said in the early hours of Tuesday that its wireline service was suffering as flooding in its central offices in lower Manhattan affected its back-up generators and batteries.

The company said that its engineers were on site during the night and were beginning to assess damage.

“Verizon is discovering that many poles and power lines/Verizon cables are down throughout the region due to heavy winds and falling trees,” the company said in a statement.

Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider said it was seeing outages at some cell sites because of the power outages across all the states in Sandy’s path including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Maryland, North Virginia and New England.

People complained of outages to their cable telephone, Internet and television services from providers ranging from Comcast Corp, Cablevision Systems Corp and Verizon in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York.

Cablevision said it was experiencing widespread service interruptions primarily related to loss of power. Comcast had no immediate comment.

Cellphone service also appeared to be spotty for other top providers AT&T Inc and T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, according to some customers.

AT&T declined to comment on whether it was having network problems but said that it “will continue to monitor” its wireline and wireless networks.

“Once we have a clear sense what’s happening and where we’ll communicate it,” spokesman Mark Siegel said.

Verizon Wireless declined immediate comment expect to say that it is assessing the situation. A T-Mobile USA representative was not immediately available for comment.

Several Time Warner Cable customers in Brooklyn said that their Internet, television and phone services stopped working Monday night but were back again by Tuesday morning.

Time Warner Cable said that while it has not seen any major damage to its infrastructure, its customers who do no have electricity do not have cable services.

Millions of people in the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to flooded homes, fallen trees and widespread power outages caused by Sandy, which swamped New York City’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.

At least 15 people were reported killed in the United States by one of the biggest storms to ever hit the country. Sandy dropped just below hurricane status before making landfall on Monday night in New Jersey.

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