FCC Commissioner Calls for New Cellular Infrastructure Backup Rules (11/14/12)
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Comments

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel addressed the issue of cellular networks’ backup capabilities following Hurricane Sandy, saying the FCC owes the public an honest accounting of the resiliency of the nation’s network infrastructure.

“As has been widely reported, in storm-damaged areas nearly one in four cell tower sites were not working in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane,” Rosenworcel said. Although she said improvements came quickly and wireless companies accommodated customers as best they could, “it is time for an honest conversation about network reliability in the wireless and digital age.”

“It is time to ask hard questions about backup power and how to make our networks more dependable when we need them most,” she said.

The issue will become even more important as the nationwide public-safety broadband network rolls out, with plans for public-safety officials and other users to roam onto commercial carrier networks.

In 2008, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rejected more stringent backup power requirements for cellular carriers proposed by the FCC. “This does not have to be a carbon copy of the backup power rule the commission sought to adopt following Hurricane Katrina,” Rosenworcel said. “The Office of Management and Budget disallowed that. This requires a comprehensive discussion that includes questions about access to fuel, priority under the Stafford Act, backup communications deployments, maintaining backhaul, and harmonization with state and local authorities.”

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