FCC to Hold Post-Sandy Field Hearings on Communications Net Resiliency

Announcement Follows Call by Senator Schumer for New Strategic Disaster Plan
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The FCC will hold field hearings on the resiliency of U.S. networks in the wake of communications failures during Superstorm Sandy. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said Wednesday. It will likely take multiple hearings to address all the questions the FCC wants answers to (see below).

According to the commission, the hearings will begin early next year throughout the country, starting in New York. The announcement comes a day after New York Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), called on the FCC to get together with stakeholders to come up with a new action plan for emergencies given those Sandy-related failures, including that 25% of the cell towers in a 10-state area affected by the storm were taken out of commission in the immediate aftermath.

The FCC said issues the hearings will address include "power & fuel dependencies, emergency permitting, resource sharing protocols, 9-1-1 accessibility" and will result in recommendation to strengthen that system.

"This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the resilience of communications networks," said Genachowski in announcing the hearings. "As our thoughts and sympathies remain with those who have suffered loss and damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy, I urge all stakeholders to engage constructively in the period ahead." HE also thanked Schumer for his leadership.

Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also called for the FCC to provide an "honest accounting" of the resiliency of communications networks.

"Field hearings will increase our understanding of the problems encountered during Superstorm Sandy and harvest the best ideas to ensure that mobile phone service doesn't fail after future storms," said Schumer responses. according to the FCC. "Mobile communication has become an essential part of our lives, and increasing its reliability must be a top priority. I'd like to thank chairman Genachowski and the FCC for their good work during the storm, and for beginning to tackle this important issue so quickly after."