Experts Advise Changing Copper to Fiber Optic To Protect Communications in Natural Disasters


Experts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy recommended on Tuesday replacing copper wire grids with fiber wires to improve communication in future natural disasters.

The advice emerged from panelists at an FCC hearing in Lower Manhattan.

Unlike copper, fiber is made of glass and not susceptible to salt water, the experts said. Fiber is also far less brittle and not as effected by wind as copper.

“I welcome the changes, investing in fiber,” said city Commissioner of Information Technology & Telecommunications Rahul N. Merchant.  “This investment should not have to come from the public’s pocket.”

Verizon Vice President Jim Gerace told the panel that fiber optic customers had their service restored immediately during the super storm and that all lower Manhattan is wired in fiber optic cables.

One of the main obstacles faced by service providers was getting fuel to back up generators.  Time Warner Cable Vice President Brian J. Allen explained that having backup generators  and  backup fuel was a primary goal of service providers.

A recurring theme was the importance of preparation, and communication. All the speakers stressed the vitality of relationships between state and federal government’s as well as interpersonal and professional relationships. Which all agreed was the thing that got New Yorkers through Sandy.

But the panelists agreed that utilities could never be fully prepared for natural calamities. Allen quoted President Dwight Eisenhower: “’In times of crisis plans are useless, but planning is invaluable'”

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