House E&C Dems Seeks Hearing on Communications Failures During Superstorm

Reps. Cite FCC Figures That 25% of Cell Towers in 10 States Were Impacted
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Some top House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have called for a hearing on communications failures in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and pointed to problems across the board.

"Communications services failed to perform as needed during and after the storm," wrote ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and his colleagues in asking committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) for the hearing. "In the aftermath of the storm, power outages and floods disrupted many types of communications, including wireless, television, telephone and Internet services. The Federal Communications Commission reported that the storm knocked out a quarter of the cell towers in an area spreading across ten states," they said.  

During briefings, FCC officials pointed primarily to cellphone and, to a lesser degree, cable outages, saying there were very few broadcasters knocked off the air.

The legislators also focused on phone problems, saying one issue the hearing should examine was wireless and fiber optic networks. Also signing on to the letter were communications Subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Edolphus Townes and Elliot Engel (both New York), and Frank Pallone (New Jersey).