Cell Services Hit in Kolkata As Cyclone Amphan Knocks Down Towers

Estimates say around 7,000 cell tower sites are non-functional across West Bengal after Cyclone Amphan hit.

Tech News
2 min read
Mangled remains of a bus after a tree fell on it during Cyclone Amphan, in Kolkata. 

Cyclone Amphan has caused widespread damage across Kolkata knocking out cellphone services as well in many areas after towers were knocked out or damaged on 20 May. Industry estimates say that more than 50 percent of the cell tower sites in West Bengal were damaged or impacted by power outages according to a report in The Economic Times.

In West Bengal, around 7,000 cell tower sites out of 14,167 were non-operational due to power outages caused by the cyclone, according to data from the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association.

As a result people were unable to make calls or access the internet in many parts of West Bengal and Odisha.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone were quite badly effected in Kolkata and the rest of West Bengal, while Jio's services were hit in the North 24 and South Parganas areas.

Airtel replied to users tweets in West Bengal with this message.
Airtel replied to users tweets in West Bengal with this message.
Photo: Twitter

Telecom secretary Anshu Prakash is reported to have met with the mobile network operators and asked them to get at least 1,000 cell tower sites working again within 24 hours.

State-run provider BSNL said around 30 percent of its sites were affected.

With the amount of damage that has been unleashed by Cyclone Amphan, it will be a while before normal mobile services are restored in West Bengal. Not only cell services, but even internet services are hit because fibre optic cable has also been damaged in several areas.

Many cell towers that are affected carry the receivers and transmitters of multiple providers on a single tower. Each tower has its own power back-up as well. However, if this is damaged in the cyclone and resulting flood, it would take a while to restore services.

West Bengal and Odisha bore the brunt of Cyclone Amphan, with even Kolkata being badly affected. Wind speeds hit 185 kmph, killing more than 80 people, and damaging property. Kolkata airport also was badly affected when a part of the hangar area collapsed and taxiways flooded.

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