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Schumer Asks FCC for New Communications Disaster Plan

Add Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to the list of
legislators pointing to communications failures in the aftermath of Superstorm

On Monday, Schumer called on the FCC to develop a plan to
"ensure that cell towers don't lose power for days or weeks in the wake of
severe storms, terrorist attacks or other events that cause power

He cited the FCC's estimates that a quarter of the cell
towers in storm-affected areas, which prominently included his home state of
New York, went down after the storm.

Schumer accentuated the positive in a letter to FCC chairman
Julius Genachowski. He hailed Genachowski's "historic achievements"
in public safety, saying he needed to "build on that record of
leadership" by getting stakeholders together to develop a national action
plan for the next disaster.

He also picked up on Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's call
for an "honest accounting" of the resiliency of communications

Schumer also had some love for carriers. "[M]any in the
telecommunications industry rose to the occasion to help distressed New
Yorkers," he pointed out. "The major carriers waived fees and set up
mobile charging stations where customers could also make free calls and get
free Internet access. They also collaborated to open their networks to each
other's customers. And they worked to bring their towers back online as soon as

Schumer's letter accompanies acall by House Dems for a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee on
those Sandy-related communications deficits.

"I thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and welcome his call to ensure our nation's communications networks remain resilient in the face of disasters like Superstorm Sandy," Genachowski responded in a statement Tuesday. "This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges involving our communications infrastructure during times of crisis. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the FCC staff worked around the clock to support restoration efforts -- including by tracking and evaluating outages in the network through our Disaster Information Reporting System and supporting efforts in the field to deliver fuel to critical network locations. We must meet this 21st century public safety challenge and the FCC is giving serious consideration to Senator Schumer's proposal. I urge all stakeholders to engage constructively in the period ahead."

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.