More than 90% of Cell Sites Still Out in Puerto Rico

More than 90% of cell sites in Puerto Rico remained down today due to widespread damage caused by Hurricane Maria, the FCC said. The outage data came from information submitted to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), which has been activated for all counties in Puerto Rico and all districts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The report continues to warn “that many communications providers have not yet reported in DIRS, so outage information almost certainly is not complete. Overall, however, it appears as though there has been a little improvement to communications networks in Puerto Rico since the hurricane departed. For example, 22.3% of the cell sites in the vicinity of San Juan are now operational (as compared to just 18.1% yesterday).”

“Overall, 91.2% (slightly down from 92.5% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service,” the report said. “All counties in Puerto Rico have greater than 75% of their cell sites out of service. 34 (down from 37 yesterday) out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100% of their cell sites out of service.”

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, “60.4% (slightly down from 61.3% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service,” the report said.

As for the operational status of public safety answering points (PSAPs), the report said that “[t]he two PSAPs in Puerto Rico are currently functioning normally according to the primary service provider. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the St. Croix 9-1-1 Call Center has been reported as completely down. FEMA has reported significant damage to the building. The St. Thomas 9-1-1 Call Center is unable to retrieve Phase I and Phase II location information for wireless callers and ANI/ALI for VoIP Callers.”

“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 (one company reported that 100% of its consumers are out of service due to lack of commercial power),” the FCC continued to report. “There are at least 18 (same as yesterday) switches that are out of service due to either SS7 or toll isolation.”

The report also said that no TV stations had reported in DIRS that they were out of service and only one radio station in San Juan had reported being down.

“Based on informal reports earlier, it appears the following radio and televisions stations are operational in Puerto Rico: AM: WKAQ 580, WPAB 550, WIPR 940, WAPA 680, WISO 1260, WTIL 1300, WKUM 1470, WMDD 1480, WDEP 1490, WALO 1240, WSJN 1320, WXEW 840, WEXS 1070, WMIA 610 FM: 91.9, 94.7, 95.7, 96.1, 97.7, 104.1, 104.7, 106.9 TV: WKAQ-TV is on the air; Telemundo virtual Ch.2 UHF 28 is on the air.”

In a blog posting yesterday, AT&T, Inc., detailed some of its efforts to restore service to the impacted areas.

“We are committed to the restoration and recovery efforts for the people of Puerto Rico. With this website we are helping them reach family and friends in the U.S. as services restore,” AT&T Communications Chief Executive Officer John Donovan said. “Critical help has been arriving this weekend and more is on the way.”

The blog posting said that Mr. Donovan “went with one of the relief flights into San Juan yesterday to help assess damage and develop the recovery plans. The initial flights carried more than 20 generators to help restore communications, bottled water, food supplies and personnel. Satellite devices to support first responders in the hardest hit areas were also brought in, with hundreds more devices on the way. More flights and ships carrying communications equipment and supplies are arriving today and in the coming days.”

“Significant storm damage, power outages and flooding interrupted service throughout the region. We have an action plan and are working to restore and maintain service where needed. Staging areas are set up and teams are in place to start deploying equipment as it arrives,” the news release added. “We are also focused on network restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands and will begin bringing additional resources there. We already have a portable cell site setup near the airport on St. Thomas.”

For its part, Globalstar, Inc., “has maintained connectivity for its customers throughout the situation with Maria, even though we had to temporarily turn off and secure the antennas at our gateway located in” Puerto Rico, said Barbee Ponder, vice president and general counsel for the satellite provider. —Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily