The FCC said today that communications providers have reported heavy outages as a result of damage from Irma, which has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm. The Commission said that as of 11 a.m., information reported to the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) indicated that 27.4% of cell sites were out of service in Florida, while 19.4% were out in Puerto Rico (down from 25% yesterday), and 55.1% were out in the U.S. Virgin Islands (down from 57.9% yesterday).
The report said that 50% or more of cell sites were down in six Florida counties, while that threshold had been seen in eight Puerto Rico counties and in St. John and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
“There are a total of 27 PSAPs affected in the reporting area in Florida and 2 PSAPs affected in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the report also said. In Florida, 14 public safety answering points were down with no re-routes, two were operating with no automatic location information (ALI), calls to seven were being rerouted with ALI, and calls to four were being rerouted without ALI. “In addition, the Broward County South Region, FL PSAP lost power as of 9/10/17 at 2:28PM EDT. CPE equipment is unavailable. We do not know if 911 calls are being rerouted,” the report said.
“In the U.S. Virgin Islands: Both PSAPs are operational without ALI or Automatic Numbering Information (ANI),” it said.
“There are at least 7,597,945 subscribers out of service in the affected area in Florida,” the report said of cable systems and wireline service. “There are a total of 390 non-mobile switching centers out in Florida. Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service. Companies are actively working to restoring service.”
The report said two TV stations were down in Florida, four in Puerto Rico (the same as yesterday), and two in the Virgin Islands (the same as yesterday). Twenty-five radio stations in Florida were out of service. As was the case yesterday, one was down in the Virgin Islands.
The FCC has extended the DIRS activation from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida to portions of Georgia and Alabama. “In addition, the FCC deployed field staff to conduct surveys of the radio frequency environment before Irma’s landfall. When it is safe to proceed, the teams will re-sample the impacted areas to help determine the status of public safety land mobile radio and commercial broadcast services in the hardest hit regions,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement today.
“The FCC has also provided regulatory relief to help keep those impacted by the storm connected. For example, in order to help prevent low-income customers from losing communications service during the recovery from the storm, the FCC has temporarily waived certain Lifeline rules,” he noted. “The FCC has also temporarily waived certain numbering rules to make sure that customers in affected areas can still have access to telecommunications services. We have also granted special authority to public safety officials so that they can access the spectrum they need for relief and restoration efforts.” —Paul Kirby, email@example.com