FCC to Hold Post-Sandy Field Hearings on Communications Net Resiliency

The FCC will hold field hearings on the resiliency of U.S.
networks in the wake of communications failures during Superstorm Sandy. FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski said Wednesday. It will likely take multiple hearings to
address all
the questions the FCC wants answers to.

According to the commission, the hearings will begin early
next year throughout the country, starting in New York. The announcement comes
a day after SenatorCharles Schumer (D-N.Y.), called on the FCC to get together with stakeholdersto come up with a new action plan for emergencies given those Sandy-related
failures, including that 25% of the cell towers in a 10-state area affected by the
storm were taken out of commission in the immediate aftermath.

The FCC said issues the hearings will address include
"power and fuel dependencies, emergency permitting, resource sharing
protocols, 9-1-1 accessibility" and will result in recommendation to
strengthen that system.

"This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges
that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the
resilience of communications networks," said Genachowski in announcing the
hearings. "As our thoughts and sympathies remain with those who have
suffered loss and damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy, I urge all
stakeholders to engage constructively in the period ahead." He also
thanked Schumer for his leadership.

Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also called for
the FCC to provide an "honest accounting" of the resiliency of
communications networks.

"Field hearings will increase our understanding of the
problems encountered during Superstorm Sandy and harvest the best ideas to
ensure that mobile phone service doesn't fail after future storms," said
Schumer responses, according to the FCC. "Mobile communication has become
an essential part of our lives, and increasing its reliability must be a top
priority. I'd like to thank Chairman Genachowski and the FCC for their good
work during the storm, and for beginning to tackle this important issue so
quickly after."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.