Read complete report here: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-report-communication-impacts-hurricane-michael
Executive Summary: Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to make landfall in the United States, inflicted billions of dollars in damage and resulted in the loss of dozens of lives on the American mainland. It is estimated the hurricane caused over $25 billion in damages and resulted in 57 known deaths. The storm had significant effects on communications, and also adversely affected other critical sectors including transportation, power, food and agriculture.
The storm cut a path from the Gulf Coast, up through the Panhandle, continuing into Georgia and the Carolinas, before veering off into the Atlantic just south of the Chesapeake Bay. Communications in many areas in Georgia, Alabama, and most of Florida were mildly affected by the hurricane. In these areas, communications providers rebounded within 48 hours after Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10, 2018. In other areas, particularly the Florida Panhandle, the effects were more pronounced. Specifically, wireless subscribers in Bay and Gulf Counties had limited service for over a week.
The Bureau undertook an inquiry into what went right, and what went wrong, on various communications platforms in the areas affected by the storm. While the Bureau invited comments from all sectors of the communications industry (e.g., broadcasting, cable, wireline, satellite), it was most particularly interested in the experience of mobile wireless communications. Initial reports, both in the news media and in conversations between Commission staff and representatives of the mobile wireless industry, indicated that there were, in some instances, significant lapses in consumer connectivity. The Bureau sought to understand why and how those lapses occurred, and what could be done in the future to minimize such lapses. This Report presents the Bureau’s findings and recommendations. Because the initial belief that the mobile wireless communications industry was particularly affected was borne out by outage data, the Report places special emphasis on wireless service performance before, during, and after Hurricane Michael, with an emphasis on hardest-hit Bay and Gulf Counties in Florida.
Hurricane Michael demonstrated starkly how some wireless providers in the Florida Panhandle were able to rebound from this devastating storm through foresight and appropriate planning, while others stalled in their efforts to restore full service. Some providers, working in the same area and facing the same challenges as others, were back in service considerably sooner than others.
The poor level of service several days after landfall by some wireless providers cannot simply be attributed to unforeseeable circumstances specific to those providers. A lack of coordination and cooperation between certain wireless service providers on the one hand, and utilities and debris clearance crews on the other, unnecessarily prolonged critical backhaul repairs and full restoration of functioning wireless service. The Bureau learned of numerous cases in which a wireless provider had restored service to customers only to have that service brought down as third-party crews damaged communications assets while clearing trash or restoring power lines and utility poles. Such lack of coordination among wireless providers, utilities, and debris clearance crews unnecessarily prolonged the time customers lacked service.
The Bureau finds that three key factors – insufficiently resilient backhaul connectivity, inadequate reciprocal roaming arrangements, and lack of coordination between wireless service providers, power crews, and municipalities – were the predominant causes of the unacceptable lack of service. The Bureau further concludes that a lack of coordination and cooperation among wireless providers themselves (exacerbated by inadequate roaming arrangements) inhibited their ability to increase service availability via roaming. Some providers appear not to have comported with the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework (Framework), the voluntary commitment that several nationwide service providers proposed and committed to abide by in 2016. Specifically, it appears that some wireless providers demurred from seeking assistance from potential roaming partners and, therefore, remained inoperable.
We note that certain findings in this Report are based on information submitted in the Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), a voluntary web-based system allowing providers to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during times of crises, or information discovered as a result of communications with providers about those filings. Because information submitted in DIRS is sensitive, for national security and/or commercial reasons, DIRS filings are treated as presumptively confidential. Accordingly, the Report protects identifying information from disclosure where necessary to preserve DIRS confidentiality.
 National Centers for Environmental Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2018 (2019), https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201812.
 Olivia Michael, Hurricane Michael death toll continues to rise (Jan. 11, 2019), https://www.wjhg.com/content/news/Hurricane-Michael-death-toll-continues-to-rise-504241911.html.
 Patricia Sullivan, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, & Annie Gowen, “It’s All Gone”: Tiny Florida town nearly swept away by Hurricane Michael, Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/its-all-gone-tiny-florida-beach-town-nearly-swept-away-by-hurricane-michael/2018/10/12/f1a110c0-ce56-11e8-a3e6-44daa3d35ede_story.html. Bay and Gulf Counties are located directly on the Gulf Coast where the storm first made landfall. Bay County is home to Panama City as well as Mexico Beach, which sustained extreme damage from the hurricane.
 See Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Hurricane Michael Preparation and Response, Public Notice, PS Docket No. 18-339, 33 FCC Rcd 11239 (2018) (Public Notice).
 The storm was the most intense storm to make landfall on Florida, the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States, and the fourth most intense storm to make landfall based on windspeed. National Centers for Environmental Information, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2018 (2019), https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/national-climate-201812.
 See The FCC’s Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Launches Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 16757 (PSHSB 2007) (DIRS Public Notice).
 DIRS Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 16758.