Cox says most New Orleans-area customers still without internet, cable service after Ida | Hurricane Center

Cox Communications said Friday most of the New Orleans area remained without its internet and cable service and it was too soon to provide a timetable on when it would be restored, as some residents began to grow impatient with the telecommunications giant following Hurricane Ida. The company also said customers’ accounts would be credited for the outage and they did not need to call to request it.

Cell providers, meanwhile, reported progress as they rushed out portable towers, generators and fleets of workers after the devastating blow Ida’s 150 mph winds delivered to infrastructure.

While most Cox customers in the New Orleans area remained without service, 65% in East Baton Rouge Parish and 85% in West Baton Rouge Parish have had their services restored, the company said in a statement.

Cox said it intended to complete assessments in the New Orleans area by Sunday, adding that more than 1,200 miles of network had been inspected and 25 miles of damage identified so far.

In an emailed response to questions, a Cox spokesman said: “Once those are complete we will focus on restoration. We don’t yet know the total extent of the damage, so I don’t have an exact timeline of when services will be restored in the Greater New Orleans market.”

The statement added that “upon completion of our assessments, our crews will focus on replacing damaged fiber and cable infrastructure and restoring services while the power companies are working to restore power. In many areas, we are seeing our services restored as power is restored. Cox will follow closely behind the restoration of power and work diligently to restore all services as soon as possible.”

It notes that restoration involves “walking and surveying large areas to check on hundreds of lines and pieces of equipment that could be below, on or above the ground on the power lines.”

“Our service is connected to power lines, so we partner with the power company to keep informed on their progress to safely restore power to our areas before we begin our work. Our services are often restored shortly after power. However, please keep in mind that power disruptions may continue to impact our equipment even after in-home power is restored.”

Entergy officials on Friday sketched for the first time a detailed schedule of when they expect people in various localities to have power, with most New Orleans-area residents getting it within the next week.

Some New Orleans residents by Friday had become frustrated with what they saw as a lack of communication from Cox. By 5 p.m. on Friday, the latest update at a link on its website related to Ida’s impact was more than two days old.

Some customers also were under the impression that they had to contact the company on their own to receive a rebate for the outage, which a Cox spokesman said was incorrect.

Konrad Kantor’s Manolito bar and restaurant in the French Quarter remained without Cox service. He said he didn’t necessarily expect for it to be restored by this point, but hoped for better communications and signs of progress.

“Entergy’s a saint compared to Cox,” said Kantor, 36, as he stopped in at Matassa Market on the corner of St. Philip and Dauphine streets. “I haven’t seen a single Cox truck.”

New Orleans resident Kyle Melancon said he had sought a refund from Cox for the lack of service to his Mid-City home. He said he didn’t think the process was automated, and he tagged the company in a tweet and received a reply, which eventually allowed him to send a direct message.

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He said he didn’t even want to try to call and wait on hold because “I do not have that patience right now.”

“I’m not sure why the onus is on the customer who has many, many other things to be dealing with right now,” said Melancon, who is also the drummer in Imagination Movers.

Verizon meanwhile has said that at least 90% of its cell sites that were in the path of the storm are in service. It has offered unlimited calling, texting and data to affected parishes in Louisiana through September 10. It has also set up emergency charging sites.

On Friday afternoon, it reported “tremendous progress today in the areas of Hammond and south of Lake Pontchartrain in the Metairie area. As a result of sites coming back in service, Verizon engineers will be redeploying temporary assets originally supporting those areas to the Houma and coastline areas, where fiber cuts, power outages and massive wind damage caused significant destruction of fiber and network equipment.”

AT&T said Friday that its wireless network in Louisiana is operating at more than 96% of normal capacity. It has also set up charging sites.

T-Mobile said that its network was about 70% operational as of Monday in Louisiana and Alabama, but that progress had been made since then. It has provided WiFi access and charging.

“Our teams are very close to having all power needs addressed with portable generators and restoration from local utilities,” it said.

One French Quarter resident, Melissa Kent, 62, had found a solution to storm-related communications problems. She had a landline that never lost service.

“It’s a lesson very well-learned,” she said from the doorway of her house, where electricity had also been restored.

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