State records suggest cellular service disruptions caused by this month’s derecho have been resolved, but the data is all voluntarily submitted by cell companies. Wireless companies are not required to report outages to the State of Iowa or the Federal Communications Commission.
The Iowa Utilities Board has developed a spread sheet based on voluntary information from cell phone companies. It indicates there are more than 2,000 cell towers in the 24 counties impacted by the derecho and a spokesman for the agency said none of the companies reported towers were blown over.
Donald Tromey, a spokesman for the Iowa Utilities Board, said cell phone service outages over the past two weeks were related to power outages at the towers or problems with what’s called the back haul. A cell call first goes to a tower, then is routed through buried fiber lines that connect to the internet. Internet service was disrupted by the storm in many areas.
While companies that provide electric and gas service in Iowa must report how many customers are without service, neither the state nor the federal government require cell phone companies to do that.