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Sandy takes out quarter of cell phone towers

Federal regulators say that wireless networks are starting to move back slowly into operation in areas that were hit by Hurricane Sandy, as carriers struggle to try to replenish diesel tanks at their backup generators.

The Federal Communications Commission reports that about 19 percent of cell phone towers located in the storm-ravaged region, which spreads from Virginia all the way to Massachusetts, were still out of operation as of yesterday, an improvement on the 25 percent that were out of operation two days earlier.

While a number of towers have generators, once they start to run low on fuel then refueling them “is a particularly critical challenge”, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s head of public safety, David Turetsky.

Cable connections have been able to resume operations more quickly, with the agency estimating that only just between 12 to 14 percent of cable connected households continue to be out, again down from 25 percent on Tuesday.

Officials have been urging citizens to keep their cell phone usage to a minimum and restrict themselves to just using texting and tweeting services.

“As we continue to closely our wireline and wireless networks for service disruptions, we are experiencing some issues in areas heavily impacted by the storm,” a statement from officials at AT&T revealed on Tuesday.  “We are in the initial stages of performing an ‘on the ground’ assessment of our network for damage, and crews will be working around the clock to restore service.”