Alone in the Dark: Susan Crawford and the Telecom Industry

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A year after Sandy cut power to cellphone towers and flooded copper wire, land line telephones leaving thousands of people without service, what's changed?  "Nothing," says Susan Crawford, author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.

A professor at the Cardozo School of Law, she's also advised President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg on tech and innovation policy. She argues telecom service providers have done little to prevent dropped phone calls, spotty internet and an loss of connectivity that could result from another big storm.

"We've deregulated these giant companies who actually control internet access in America," she said. "They're under no obligation to have particular levels of backup power. They don't have to ensure that people can continue to communicate." 

Here more of her interview with New Tech City's Manoush Zomorodi.

Telecom and cable companies told WNYC they are taking steps to improve service in the event of another storm like Sandy. 

Sprint said it's "undertaking a multi-year cell site power hardening initiative which focuses on the deployment of new permanent generators at Sprint cell sites" and has a new fleet of "cell site on wheels" or COWs that it can send to areas without service due to storms.

AT&T said it continues "to invest hundreds of millions in business continuity and recovery" and is "expanding our efforts to install permanent generators at cell sites."

Verizon said it's moved backup generators to higher floors and for fuel tanks required by law to remain in subbasements, the company has encased them with "submarine grade" protection.