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Roaming as a disaster response

A significant number of base stations (around 20% or lower) in the Hurricane Sandy affected areas are supposed to have gone down, mainly due to electricity problems. I am sure the systems here in South Asia are a lot more robust in this aspect because our baseline expectations of the reliability of the electricity networks is much much lower. So our operators have way more backup capabilities. But anyway, a disaster is an extraordinary event. Bad things happen; all that we can do is minimize risks, not eliminate them. So some base stations will go down; congestion will be heavy; coverage will be spotty. Here is a good solution:

To help maintain service AT&T and T-Mobile said on Wednesday that in the affected areas of New York and New Jersey, their customers would be able to use the networks of both companies, decreasing the likelihood of failed calls.

In a statement, T-Mobile USA said that when customers of both AT&T and T-Mobile place calls, the calls would be carried by whichever network is available in the area. Both networks use similar technologies, so switching between them will be seamless, and there will not be an additional charge, the company said.

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