FCC wants to make carriers report cell outages in disasters

A proposed rule would require mobile operators to say what percentage of their sites are operational

Mobile operators would have to tell the public what percentage of their cell sites were working during and after major disasters if the FCC adopts a rule it is proposing in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The proposed rule, announced Thursday and expected to be open for comment within days, is intended to give consumers a way to compare wireless performance in emergencies, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. The agency also believes it could encourage competition to improve network reliability.

In a press release, the FCC cited Hurricane Sandy, which devastated large areas of the Northeastern U.S. almost a year ago and knocked out cellular service in some areas for days. The storm shut down about 25 percent of all cell sites in the region, and about 50 percent in the worst-hit counties, the agency said. Not all networks were affected equally, and carriers' operational choices and practices accounted for much of the difference, according to the FCC. The agency held a series of field hearings on communications services after the storm.

Mobile service is critical during and after emergencies, the agency said, citing information that a majority of emergency 911 calls are now made over cellphones.

Each carrier would have to make daily reports during and after emergencies, for public disclosure, saying what percentage of its cell sites in each county were operational. Operators already submit availability data as part of larger daily reports to the government, but those reports are voluntary and don't have to be released to the public. Carriers did give daily, general updates to media on their recovery from Sandy, and the FCC used information from operators to provide overall estimates of cell availability.

The new reporting requirements would kick in when the FCC implements its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), which is used in very large disasters and not in every case where a federal disaster is declared, according to the FCC.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags telecommunicationCarriersregulationU.S. Federal Communications Commissionmobilegovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?