The issue with the Internet is, of course, there is no single point of contact -- or responsibility -- for keeping the Web working. We all use a mix of cellphones, wired Internet and enterprise service providers to access our digital content. Most of the time the thing hums along, safely out of sight underneath the Web's digital hood. But because I run a cloud-based content shop -- and test cloud-based content tools in the process -- my colleagues and I were in the fascinating position of touching essentially every Web provisioning technology as the storm swept through. We used 3G and 4G cell modems and cellular voice service from Verizon (VZ - Get Report), Clear (CLWR), AT&T (T - Get Report) and Sprint (S) to file stories and check facts. We made calls from various broadband phones such as those from Vonage (VG). We accessed the Web with Verizon fiber as well as Time Warner (TWC) traditional cable and many others. And as Sandy ravaged our network, we saw firsthand how these platforms wobbled from nonfunctioning to barely functioning to high-functioning -- and back again -- seemingly at random. Home-fired fiber
Here is just one example of the stubborn issues Sandy revealed: While 100-foot oak trees crushed power lines and homes, somehow Verizon fiber networking lines stayed connected to my home office. The catch is that fiber plants such as those Verizon sells need external power to function. Verizon tries to do the right thing; it installs its FiOS product with a battery backup for emergencies. But in battery mode, it turned out phone service worked, but data would not.