WGXC-90.7 FM

Radio News: FCC attempting to make disaster communication more reliable

Jun 16, 2022 11:33 pm

Paul McLane reports for Radio World that climate change is now affecting radio policy. Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel released a statement June 16 saying the bureau will work to improve cell phone reception during hurricanes and wildfires and other disasters. “While wireless providers have worked hard to prevent outages and restore service during recent disasters, there were times when communications fell short and recovery took too long, which put lives at risk,” her statement read, in part. The Western United States has seen more forest fires recently, and several very large hurricanes have impacted the southern states too. Locally ice storms, high winds, and flooding have knocked out communications in recent years. Rosenworcel, the Democratic-appointed Chair, and Republican-appointed Commissioner Brendan Carr visited in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida and they “heard firsthand where communications resiliency needs improvement" and "now it’s time to act on what we’ve learned,” Rosenworcel said. Proposals for improving disaster communications include mutual aid arrangements that enable service providers to request, or receive a request, for assistance during emergencies. Companies would also draft more complete disaster plans, under the proposal. Public safety and first responder groups including the National Sheriffs’ Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs approve the proposals, Carr said. The mutual aid agreement may have emerged after some carriers had signals after Hurricane Ida hit the New Orleans area in 2021. WWL asked readers "why were Verizon subscribers still able to make calls while T-Mobile/Sprint and AT&T customers couldn't?" Nearby Lafourche Parish did not have any cell service for a week after the storm hit. Anthony Nordin, a construction manager with a cell company, said service providers can add back-up generators and fuel supplies, and otherwise harden transmitter sites to stay on the airwaves.