Last week, we lost power for two days because PGE shut down service in many northern California areas in anticipation of wildfires. We were surprised (and upset) to discover that our cell phones would not work either, neither for voice calls nor data. A text would come in but we could not text out. I would like to understand why our wireless service was affected and for so long. Interestingly, Verizon assurred the public in a news article in August that they were prepared for those outages! What level of sireless service can we expect when the next outage occurs? We thought we could at least rely on our cell phones for 911 but not so!
The cell phones connect to a cell tower to transmit the calls and data. From the cell tower the transmission is carried over fiber optic lines. Both the cell towers and the fiber optic require electricity to broadcast or create the signal used for the transmission. Some cell towers, but not all have a backup power supply often in the form of a generator. The generator if present might only have enough fuel to run for a period of time such as 24 hours. Each location could run for longer or shorter depending on the fuel consumption and if the tower has a low broadcasting mode where the transmission is reduced during power outages.
If you need a true emergency phone line, you can get a landline phone line that uses the plain old telephone service (POTS) and a manual dial phone unit that doesn't use any external power source to get a dial tone.
I'm most definitely NOT a VZW employee. If a post answered your question, please mark it as the answer.