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June 26, 2012


Carl Schwab

John-------I understand exactly what you are talking about and am not giving up my land line phone for the very reason you are describing. Last August 28th hurricane Irene hit LI and 5 of my neighbor’s alarm systems went berserk because the cable TV service went out and the alarm monitor system interrupted it as cut telephone connection--hence break-in.
Carl Schwab

lee sirio

John-I remember that outage. My wife was on the LIRR heading back to Huntington but the train got stuck due to loss of electricity somewhere on the Queens/ Nassau border. She called me on her cellphone but it died in the middle of our conversation. I had no idea where she was and had issues at the house because my son was 4 at the time and was really scared of the dark. I also had my mother in law staying with me. A real disaster. Lo and Behold my wife used a pay phone and got a hold of me on my land line (which I found an old phone and plugged it in). I picked her up a couples hurs later and had to drop off 3 other women who weren't so lucky getting in touch with their spouses.

lee sirio

Actually after some thought I want to correct myself- I was referring to the Northeast blackout of 2003 not Ernesto. It was not long after 911.

Joel Koltner

John --

The VOIP services provided by the big ISPs (e.g., Comcast, Verizon, Frontier, etc.) typically *are* battery-backed, for precisely the reasons you mention. In theory even with an "off-the-shelf" VOIP box (e.g., Ooma, Vonage) you could add your own UPS, although in many cases ISPs that don't provide phone service go completely black when the power goes out so that doesn't really help.

As for cell phones... I think the vast majority of people have car chargers? While one needs to be cognizant not to run down the car's battery too much, there's an awful lot of cell phone charges to be had from a car battery even before you run the engine for awhile to recharge it. (There are also solar chargers available, although of course few people have these.)

So I think it's safe to say that people have thought about this problem quite a bit (e.g., I believe it's some law that requires the ISPs offering VOIP to provide battery backup -- they don't do it strictly out of the goodness of their hearts). It's just of course not the sort of thing the average consumer necessarily thinks about when they're out shipping for a deal on their phone service...

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