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House E&C Dems Seeks Hearing on Communications Failures During Superstorm

Some top House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have
called for a hearing on communications failures in the aftermath of Superstorm
Sandy, and pointed to problems across the board.

"Communications services failed to perform as needed
during and after the storm," wrote ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)
and his colleagues in asking Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) for the
hearing. "In the aftermath of the storm, power outages and floods
disrupted many types of communications, including wireless, television,
telephone and Internet services. The Federal Communications Commission reported
that the storm knocked out a quarter of the cell towers in an area spreading
across ten states," they said.  

During briefings, FCC officials pointed primarily to cellphone
and, to a lesser degree, cable outages, saying there were very few broadcasters
knocked off the air.

The legislators also focused on phone problems, saying one
issue the hearing should examine was wireless and fiber optic networks. Also
signing on to the letter were communications Subcommittee ranking member Anna
Eshoo (Calif.), Edolphus Townes and Elliot Engel (both New York), and Frank
Pallone (New Jersey).