A major earthquake in California is likely to disrupt many communications services for days or weeks, including the vast majority of cell phones in areas closest to the epicenter, according to a landmark new analysis by the US Geological Survey.
The widespread disruption will put the public’s access to 911 workers at risk and lead to delays in reporting fires and requests for medical help.
Cell towers are subject to constant power outages. The USGS said the same applies to cellular equipment in power poles and buildings that are at risk of severe vibration, liquefaction and fire. California’s cell phone networks are notorious for their unreliability during blackouts that occur during life-threatening emergencies, such as the wildfires in 2019, which cut off large swathes of the San Francisco Bay Area from cellular service for extended periods.
In a grim estimation of the challenges, a magnitude 7 earthquake that struck the Hayward Bay area could leave Alameda County – the likely hardest-hit area – able to provide just 7% of demand for voice and data service after the earthquake. This is identical to the failure of communications service in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when 93% of mobile phone calls failed.
Read the full story at LATimes.com.
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