Communicating Through a Crisis

Phones went dead all over New York as the towers fell. Emergency networks are already far more robust and will only get better

Anyone who was in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, remembers the numb shock, the confusion, the long walk home -- and how their phones let them down. With networks overloaded, most cell calls went nowhere. But that was nothing compared with the disruptions endured by emergency personnel at Ground Zero. When firefighters rushed into the towers, they discovered that interference from the buildings' walls prevented them from communicating with the outside. Worse, agencies using different radio frequencies soon found they couldn't even communicate with each another.

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