The N.Y. Times reported yesterday that more than 20% of cellular towers lost service across 10 states affected by Superstorm Sandy, primarily due to power outages. In addition, about 25% of wired broadband and cable-television systems were knocked out of service by the storm. Meanwhile, NBC 4 in New York City reported that 911 centers in the city fared relatively well, "with only a few failures," quoting FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Calls to affected centers were being rerouted, but some centers were unable to receive automatic location information for emergency callers.

In a statement, Genachowski said conditions generally were improving regarding communications networks in the affected area, but serious outages remain.

"We are continuing to work closely with FEMA and our other federal, state, and local partners — as well as communications companies — in response efforts," Genachowski said. "In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to expect the unexpected as the full picture of Hurricane Sandy's impact on communications networks develops. The crisis is not over. We'll continue to be intensely focused on helping with the full recovery of wired and wireless communications infrastructure."

Zetron gear deployed in harsh oil-field environment

Zetron announced that it has deployed its DCS-5020 digital consoles at Exxon's Neftegas Chayvo oil field on Sakhalin Island, which is located just off the east coast of Russia. The consoles, linked by E1 circuits, give operators control over all marine-band UHF, air-band VHF and Motorola MTM700 TETRA radios, as well as land-line telephony, the company said.

In addition, Zetron deployed its Model 390 remote desktop controllers on the oil field's production platform. The controllers are similar in form factor to a conventional desk phone; up to 15 of them can be connected by conventional Cat 5 cable to a single TETRA radio located up to 600 meters away. This greatly reduces deployment and installation costs, and keeps RF emissions away from people, sensitive equipment and hazardous environments. This reduces the risk of localized RF energy causing an explosion, the company said.

In other news, Zetron said that its Max Dispatch system successfully completed testing with the CVDS Com Log logging recorder. In order to achieve the integration, CVDS adapted its recorder according to specifications provided by Zetron, the company said.

Distributor adds RF Micro Device broadband switch

San Jose, Calif.-based distributor RFMW, Ltd., announced the availability of the RFSW1012 single-pole, double-throw broadband switch manufactured by RF Micro Devices. The switch operates from 5 MHz to 6 GHz in both 50 ohm and 75 ohm environments. It offers insertion loss of 0.3 dB with isolation of 37 dB and serves multiple applications, including LTE, WCDMA, CATV and SATV. Measuring 2 mm x 2 mm x 0.55 mm, the switch can handle up to 4 watts of power ( >500 MHz ) with suitable heat sinking, and it requires no external capacitors on RF paths, which makes it very easy to integrate, RFMW said.

CML Microcircuits adds analog-to-digital processor

CML Microcircuits announced the CMX 188 processor, which is designed to bring digital functionality to analog radios. Feature include secure digital voice encryption; digital voice storage and retrieval, including a "step-back" feature; instant voice capture to eliminate push-to-talk clipping; auto-adaptive VOX; and packet data. A Robust Advanced Low Complexity Waveform Interpolation (RALCWI) vocoder provides near-toll-quality speech at a low bit-rate, while its noise-gating feature minimizes the effects of background noise and improves overall voice quality in both transmit and receive modes, the company said.

Catalyst names national sales manager

Catalyst Communications Technology named Walter Whately as its national sales manager. A 15-year LMR industry veteran, Whately will lead the expansion of Catalyst's reseller network, including dealer and integrator relationships, the company said.