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Cell phone outage in quake’s aftermath

NEW YORK, NY – As crowds evacuated buildings across the northeast after the earthquake hit Tuesday, many couldn’t use their cell phones to call friends and family. The wireless industry says the high call volume overwhelmed and bottle-necked their networks.Verizon called it "network congestion." AT&T blamed "heavy call volumes," and Sprint called the quake aftermath "a temporary mass calling event."  Still, industry reps aren’t apologizing for the outages, which lasted 30 minutes to an hour."This is a good day for the networks, in that they stayed intact and survived," said Amy Storey, who’s with wireless association CTIA in Washington, DC. "What we suggest in these rare instances is that folks use their text messages or email. The reason is, they take less bandwidth than a voice call."Meanwhile, Arizona emergency management officials are hoping people here learn lessons from the earthquake."It’s not much different from a big storm taking out cell towers in our region. We’d experience the same event," said Julie Syrmopoulos, Operations Manager for Maricopa County Emergency Management.She says the people in the crowds with no cell connections would have benefited by having a pre-planned family meeting point, and an out-of-state contact for everyone to call and coordinate through in the event of an emergency."What we should concern ourselves with is: What are we going to do when it happens," Syrmopoulos said.She also suggests people with cell phones log on to and register for the county’s Reverse 911 system, which notifies people of emergencies. 

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