85% of Cell Sites Down in Puerto Rico

More than 84% of cell sites remained out in Puerto Rico today due to Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported. “Overall, 84.6% (slightly down from 86.3% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. All counties in Puerto Rico, except Bayamon, Carolina, Guaynabo, San Juan, and Toa Baja, have greater than 75% of their cell sites out of service. 24 (down from 27 yesterday) out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100% of their cell sites out of service. Wireless communications providers are deploying to Puerto Rico Cell Sites on Wheels and Cell Sites on Light Trucks,” the FCC said in an outages report, which used data submitted to the agency’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, “60.3% (down from 66.0% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service. 100% of cell sites in St. John are still out of service,” the report said.

The FCC said there were no changes today in the operational status of public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the affected areas.

As for cable and other wireline services, the report also said that 13 switches, compared with 10 yesterday, were still out due to either SS7 or toll isolation.

The report also said that two TV stations in Puerto Rico still reported as being out of service, while another reported as being on the air. The report said that nine radio stations in Puerto Rico reported being out of service. It said that “informal reports” still indicated that one TV station and 22 radio stations were on the air in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Mobility Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released an order today granting a request by the American Radio Relay League “for a temporary waiver to permit amateur data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently is permitted by section 97.307(f) of the Commission’s rules, in order to facilitate hurricane relief communications between the continental United States and Puerto Rico.”

Also, in a blog posting yesterday on his recent visit to Florida with Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn in the wake of Hurricane Irma (TR Daily, Sept. 19), FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that public safety personnel “raised concerns about the need for better coordination between power companies and telecommunications companies concerning relief and restoration efforts. That’s essential because power is vital to networks getting and staying up and devices remaining useful to consumers.”

He also said that one “consequence of a congested 911 system is that the public is increasingly turning to social media to seek help and to get information. According to local authorities, this trend is a double-edged sword. Social media holds tremendous potential to empower citizens and fill in gaps when other options fail or are otherwise unavailable. But it also raises concerns for first responders. For one thing, public safety authorities generally do not actively monitor social media feeds as a matter of standard operating procedure. But the more daunting problem for first responders is how to collect, verify, integrate, and translate incoming social media requests to enable a suitable response.”

In another development, AT&T today provided an update in a blog posting on its efforts to restore service to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“We have deployed temporary cell sites to 6 new cities [in Puerto Rico]; Fajardo, San German, Ponce Cursillo, Manati, Cayey, and Mayaguez Mesa. These are in addition to existing sites in Ponce, Arecibo, Humacao, Rio Grande, and Aguadilla. These sites are carrying more than 250,000 calls and 1 million text messages a day.  We plan to deploy temporary sites in additional cities, including; Yauco, Guayama, and Vega Alta,” AT&T said. “We have been working closely with government organizations, humanitarian groups, other telecommunications companies, and the military to coordinate recovery efforts. A military flight arrived earlier this week in San Juan with additional temporary cell sites, generators, fleet vehicles, and network equipment and supplies. … Additional assets are expected to arrive in Puerto Rico throughout the week.”

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, AT&T said it is “making steady progress in deploying equipment and have restored service to a number of additional sites in St. Croix. Crews are working to repair microwave transport facilities on the Island and teams will be deploying to St. John to deliver and deploy equipment and supporting recovery efforts. Additional personnel and supplies are being prepped to charter to the Islands by plane in the next few days.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily