Schumer Asks FCC for New Communications Disaster Plan
Wants post-Sandy meeting among stakeholders and accounting of infrastructure resiliency
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/20/2012 9:40:18 AM
On Monday, Schumer called on the FCC to develop a plan to "ensure that cell towers don't lose power for days or weeks in the wake of severe storms, terrorist attacks or other events that cause power failures."
He cited the FCC's estimates that a quarter of the cell towers in storm-affected areas, which prominently included his home state of New York, went down after the storm.
Schumer accentuated the positive in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. He hailed Genachowski's "historic achievements" in public safety, saying he needed to "build on that record of leadership" by getting stakeholders together to develop a national action plan for the next disaster.
He also picked up on Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's call for an "honest accounting" of the resiliency of communications infrastructure.
Schumer also had some love for carriers. "[M]any in the telecommunications industry rose to the occasion to help distressed New Yorkers," he pointed out. "The major carriers waived fees and set up mobile charging stations where customers could also make free calls and get free Internet access. They also collaborated to open their networks to each other's customers. And they worked to bring their towers back online as soon as possible."
Schumer's letter accompanies a call by House Dems for a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee on those Sandy-related communications deficits.
"I thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and welcome his call to ensure our nation's communications networks remain resilient in the face of disasters like Superstorm Sandy," Genachowski responded in a statement Tuesday. "This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges involving our communications infrastructure during times of crisis. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the FCC staff worked around the clock to support restoration efforts -- including by tracking and evaluating outages in the network through our Disaster Information Reporting System and supporting efforts in the field to deliver fuel to critical network locations. We must meet this 21st century public safety challenge and the FCC is giving serious consideration to Senator Schumer's proposal. I urge all stakeholders to engage constructively in the period ahead."
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