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Telecommunications Emergencies

Increasing usage, reliance on, and volume of data moved by telecommunications systems greatly increases the impact of a disruption. Types of failures include software failure due to program malfunctions, virus infiltration, sabotage, or hardware failure caused by physical destruction. System disruption is a major economic threat. Business and industry increasingly depend on electronic access to data and rely on computers to manage complex operating systems.
Any telecommunications failure includes:

  • Reduction in or complete termination of government/business functions
  • Loss of business revenues
  • Loss of ability to conduct normal, emergency, or disaster operations
  • Increased cost of government/business operations
  • Intangible costs entailed in the loss of business image and customer satisfaction
  • Loss of confidence in government and business by the public

Telecommunications hardware is not only subject to physical threats such as flood and fire, but many electronic threats. Lightning can damage telecommunications equipment either through conduction of its direct current or an induced current from coupling or electromagnetic radiation, typically delivered through power lines. There are other sources of electromagnetic radiation such as radar, radio and television broadcast antennas, motors, generators, arc welders, nuclear bursts and even other computers.

Mobile telephones greatly increase communication abilities. They rely on towers to enter the land line system. These towers can handle high volumes of traffic. A serious shortcoming is the lack of overlapping coverage area(s) should power or technical failure, storm damage, equipment sabotage, etc. disrupt tower operation. Saturated mobile telephone networks often occur during disasters preventing callers from using their mobile telephones. 

  1. Have a family communications plan. For an example, please visit The American Red Cross.
  2. Have a system to back-up critical personal or business information.
  3. Consider battery back-up power for business equipment to prevent data loss.