Hurricane Michael Knocks Out 18% of Cell Sites in Affected Area
Friday, October 12, 2018 | Comments

Hurricane Michael had knocked out 18.8 percent of cell sites in an area covering parts of Florida, Georgia and Alabama as of Oct. 11, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). One public-safety answering point (PSAP) was reported down as well.

In seven Florida counties, 69 percent or more of cell sites were reported as being down. In four other counties, 39 percent of more of cell sites were reported as being down. Alabama and Georgia also had multiple counties where more than 25 percent of cell sites were reported as down.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department PSAP in Marianna Florida was reported as down as of Oct. 11. Nine PSAPs were being rerouted with automatic location information (ALI). They were the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Kennesaw Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia and the Lynn Haven PSAP, Panama City Police Department, Springfield Police Department, Panama City Beach Police Department, Tyndall Air Force Base Fire Department and Tyndall Air Force Base Law Enforcement in Florida.

The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office, Irwin County Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia and the Gadsen County Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Emergency Operations Center in Florida PSAPs were all being re-routed without ALI.

“Data from the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System shows that Hurricane Michael caused substantial communications outages along its destructive path,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “This morning my office and staff from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau reached out to representatives of carriers and broadcasters to discuss the situation on the ground and how to restore service as quickly as possible.”

Pai said that he was pleased to see that communications providers had prepositioned cells on wheels (COWs) and cells on light trucks (COLTs) to get service up and running in several areas.

“In the hours and days ahead, the FCC will continue to work with our federal partners and the private sector to ensure that communications services are restored in those areas affected by Hurricane Michael,” Pai said. “Our thoughts are with all of those who have been impacted by this historic storm.”

Hurricane Michael made landfall on Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida. Find more information on the FCC’s response to the Hurricane here.

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On 10/18/18, Leon van der Linde said:
This is a worrying thought. Push to talk (PTT) over Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a cellular-based technology. There is no direct mode operation (DMO) mode as yet.
When so many cell sites go down, it means there are no communications until portable or mobile cell sites are put in place. This is the reason I still think radio should be part of the solution. Use PTT over LTE for data and pictures and keep the radio for voice. You can at least talk in simplex, albeit a few miles, but there is still communications. I say learn your lessons now, not when the pawpaw hits the fan. Then it is too late.


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