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FCC outlines efforts to help Puerto Rico telecom sector rebuild, again

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the agency is supporting disaster assessment and recovery efforts to help Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona’s strike this week.

The FCC has been coordinating closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and other government partners, including officials in Puerto Rico, as well as communications providers in preparation for the storm, now during its impact, and to support any restoration activities in its aftermath.

“It was five years ago that Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the [US] Virgin Islands, and now Puerto Rico confronts another storm with Hurricane Fiona,” said Rosenworcel. “In times of crises, staying connected takes on new urgency.”

“I saw that firsthand during my visit to Puerto Rico after Hurricane María, and now some of those same areas have been hit once more. The FCC is assessing the impact on communications services and infrastructure and issuing daily public reports to keep people informed,” she said. 

The FCC is helping facilitate communications recovery in Puerto Rico through the following efforts, among others:

  • Establishing a website prior to landfall as a centralized location for all FCC information related to Hurricane Fiona, including emergency communications tips in English and Spanish, communication status reports, and other content.
  • Performing a baseline survey of spectrum usage in targeted areas, which will help federal agencies assess the post-landfall impact to broadcasters and public safety communications.
  • In coordination with FEMA and other federal partners, activating our Disaster Information Reporting System for all of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
  • Publishing the first comprehensive assessment of Hurricane Fiona’s impact on communications networks in the affected areas and providing daily updates to both government partners and the public.
  • Engaging in daily coordination with Federal, state, and local partners, as well as with industry (including broadcasters, wireless and wireline carriers, satellite operators, trade associations, and others) to encourage actions like those outlined in the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework, mutual roaming, and the transport of necessary communications equipment to help fill communications gaps.
  • Working with federal partners to promote coordination between the communications and power sectors, which is critical during recovery efforts.
  • Extending regulatory deadlines for affected communications providers in Puerto Rico, including a regulatory fee payment deadline, and assessing the need for other regulatory assistance that may be helpful.

“We will work closely with government partners and communications providers to support restoration efforts as families and residents all over the island begin to rebuild, once again,” Rosenworcel added.

In addition to the above efforts, the FCC is deploying staff to the affected areas to perform post-landfall, on-site surveys of communications services and infrastructure as well as to assist with coordination and oversight of communications restoration. 

“The FCC will continue to monitor the developing situation in Puerto Rico and share information about its operations,” she said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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