FCC emergency communications hearings start today

The Federal Communications Commission is holding two field hearings today to analyze the challenges faced by U.S. communications networks during natural disasters or other crisis, such as Superstorm Sandy.

“The first hearing will facilitate a wider national dialogue about the resiliency of communications networks by focusing on the impact of Superstorm Sandy, and help inform recommendations and actions to strengthen wired and wireless networks in the face of such large-scale emergencies,” states a FCC press release.

The morning hearing was scheduled to take place in Manhattan from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The afternoon session will run 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The FCC will stream coverage on its website.

Last October, Superstorm Sandy knocked out 25 per cent of cell phone sites in areas affected by the storm, either through physical damage or power outages. Broadband, wireline and cable services were also impacted. It took several weeks to restore services in some areas.

The FCC hearings are expected to examine how future situations could be improved and services restored more quickly, along with the possible need for a more robust back-up power system and backhaul links. It also wants to determine if service providers took the necessary steps to protect their networks and inform customers of communications options before the storm.