Your phone may be wireless, but the internet infrastructure it depends on is not.

“Our access to the internet is all on fiber optic cable. And that cable of course is either run underground or strung across telephone poles,” David Theodore says.

Theodore helped develop broadband technology in the 1980s and is now co-founder of a company called Climate Resilient Internet.

He says extreme storms and flooding can damage fiber optic cables and cause internet outages that have major consequences.

“Data underlies all of our critical infrastructure,” he says. “If you’re a hospital and you lose internet access for hours or days … you have no access to patient records, hospital information systems, your supply chain is broken.”

So Theodore’s company promotes a backup internet system that transmits data wirelessly using microwaves and millimeter waves. If fiber optic cables go down, this system will allow information to travel between individual rooftops and data centers that are out of harm’s way.

The system does not provide as much bandwidth as fiber. But Theodore says that in an emergency, it can keep data flowing and critical institutions operating.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.