Sandy, the Cloud and You: Another Lesson Learned

By Peter Bernstein November 12, 2012

Crain’s New York Business had me with the headline, “Lost landlines see little relief on the Verizon.” In a rather long piece, the publication that really has its finger on the pulse of business in New York City documented the travails of businesses in the downtown part of Manhattan that have been literally “under water” since Hurricane Sandy wiped out Verizon’s main landline switching office on West Street.

Yes in a reprise of his 1976 hit song, "Miami 2017: Seen the lights go out on Broadway,” for the benefit concert to aid Hurricane Sandy victims, Billy Joel got it right except for the fact that it was not only the lights.

The problem is that even with lights, without phone service there can be little if no business. For those establishments in the impacted area, the Verizon estimate that they may get their landline service back by December 1 is little consolation. And, while I understand the frustration those of use familiar with such things know that the total destruction of a major switching center is non-trivial, and rest assured that the mix of salt water and switching equipment is toxic and fatal, and that was a whole lot of equipment that got deep-sixed.

As the article points out, if you have a landline telephone and no service, there is no way for you to forward your old phone number to your cell phone. To use a popular Yiddish word, “OY!”

The Crain’s article goes into detail as to some of the steps various proprietors have take to use social media to spread the word that they are open and can engage you in conversation via cell phone. Getting to them via the web is one way to make a reservation, but it is not perfect, particularly for patrons in the area who also do not have power.

Who would have thought that the inability to do something as simple as forward a call from your landline phone to your cell phone could be so catastrophic? This was one of those lessons learned that needs to be quickly rectified by Verizon or it is going to lose business. And, while it could lose that business to companies who provide working alternative landlines into buildings (such as Time Warner Cable who was cited in the article), reality is along with all of the other benefits of moving your phone service to a hosted/cloud-based solution, being able to administrate the forwarding of calls is a biggie.

The interesting thing is that as a triple play residential subscriber of Cablevision’s Optimum service I can go online and forward my calls using my web browser from anywhere in the world. Too bad the businesses downtown did not avail themselves of this service. The horizon on Verizon for satisfying these customers is looming large in the window.  

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