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Ham Radio's Role in California Outages?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W2JKT, Oct 9, 2019.

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  1. N3PM

    N3PM Ham Member QRZ Page

    From W1KU & KA4DPO

    "Is backup still largely 8-hour batteries or generators? Piped-in gas if available or always diesel? If diesel, do the carriers have delivery contingencies for continuity over extended widespread outages?"

    "I guess we will find out, but my guess is they have sufficient power for at least a week. Anyway, wired telephones are on a completely different system and the exchanges can go for weeks using their generators. Bottom line, amateur radio will not play any significant role in the situation, so who really cares?"

    Out this way the cell system gets saturated quickly .
    The wired phones frequently go thru "switching hubs" in the larger complexes and their batteries fade in a short time. There are generator connectors on the buildings but, when they get a generator to them is anyone's guess.
    The only generator I ever saw is at a phone building in Milford.

    Mike N3PM
  2. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why would anyone need help with communications? Not going to affect cellular phones one bit. Cellular operators have large station batteries and generators. They can run for a week without power. Longer if you refill the tanks.
    W5TTP and AG5DB like this.
  3. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I hope you're right, but suspect that cell coverage is poor in a number of the affected areas. We will see.

    Has anyone heard anything from the relevant Offices of Emergency Management in the affected areas? I would expect that they have anticipated likely scenarios and have resources lined up if the need arises.
  4. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have relatives in Santa Barbara, I don't need to get Health and Welfare status on them for a power outage. People have lived for centuries without power and I am sure they will be just fine. Anyway, they got plenty of warning.

    I think food spoilage might be the biggest problem people will face so I hope they stocked up on canned and dry goods. Fortunately, the Santa Ana winds don't usually blow for more than three to five days so it's not like power will be out for a month. A lot of the outages are short term so PG&E can update their infrastructure, and also clear vegetation around the right of ways.

    Why anyone would even think amateur radio would be useful in this situations is beyond me.

    Probably more than you think.
  5. WN1MB

    WN1MB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    KK4GGL likes this.
  6. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    PA is not CA. Almost all central hubs, that I know of anyway, have robust backup power. Many of these are collocated with data storage facilities so backup power is not optional. But hey, Pennsylvania has always been kind of backwards. You should build a geothermal plant on top of that coal seem fire.:D
  7. KD8DEY

    KD8DEY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Test run for the green new deal??!!
    K4PIH and K3XR like this.
  8. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The cell question is interesting.

    A couple of years ago, a power outage in my neighborhood brought cell service down within a half hour. I got home a half hour after the outage started and cell service was gone. Maybe they had battery backup that was so poorly maintained that it died quickly, or maybe they never had backup power at all.

    For many months, PG&E has been announcing their plans for power cuts. The cell providers have had an opportunity to harden their infrastructure against power outages. Did they do an effective job? We'll see. My guess is there will be at least a few temporary isolated problems, but much will work well.

    FWIW, I'm confident some amateur repeaters won't have enough backup power to last through the anticipated days-long outage uninterrupted.
  9. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess I am curious, what role would hams play? This has been advertised for months, and cell phones/landlines should continue to work. If you have a car, you can plug in your phone.

    Food in the fridge would be a bigger issue I would think.
    K3XR likes this.
  10. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cannot speak for all carriers, but VZW and ATT sites all have station batteries with enough capacity to last 8 to 24 hours. Typically sites in metro areas use shorter 8 hour reserve while rural sites will have longer run times up to 24 hours. That gives them enough time to dispatch generator technicians to see why the genny did not start, and/or connect a portable genny. Fuel is either LPG in southern climates, or diesel and tanks are sized to last several days and even longer with energy management controls.

    To keep the generators fueled up, both VZW have contracts with wholesale suppliers, and generator service companies. They also have contingencies plans in natural disasters to supply sites with fuel. No different than say a hurricane which both have a lot of experience with.

    No need for COWS, and COWS would have the same need for fuel and energy. Not like a hurricane when you loose your data link back to the Switching Office. No need for the microwave link or tower.

    Only other carrier I know about is SPRINT and all I can say is sorry about that. Sprint for the most part only uses batteries to last 12 hours with no generator. They will go down. Heck Sprint does not even have field cell technicians anymore. They got rid of all of them and replaced with a few contractors.
    K0UO likes this.

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