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Telecom Alliance urges including equipment in hurricane preparedness

The Puerto Rico Telecommunications Alliance (APT, in Spanish) is urging island residents to include in their hurricane preparedness plans measures that ensure the proper use of equipment and services before, during and after a storm hits.

APT President Denise Berlingeri said since Hurricane María struck in September 2017 to the present, Puerto Rico’s private telecom companies have invested more than $1.5 billion in infrastructure, and installed power generators and photovoltaic systems as part of their contingency measures.

“However, no industry can operate with generators for a long time,” she said.

The APT “actively participates” in meetings with the government and power company LUMA to stress the importance of including telecom among the priorities when restoring electricity service, “so that families, businesses and the government can have telephone and internet services, which are extremely necessary in emergencies for communication and coordination of response services,” she said.

Hurricane María’s destructive trek over Puerto Rico cut off most of the island’s communications services for days and weeks, as most providers experienced toppled towers and ravaged infrastructure. The island was also in complete darkness in the wake of the storm.

As part of the preparation, Berlingeri said people must ensure that their equipment is in optimal condition and that they are sufficiently charged, wait for lightning episodes to pass before handling routers or other electronic equipment to avoid accidents, and “use services wisely.”

“During emergency situations, telecom networks may be saturated and there may be connection failures. That’s why it’s recommended to make calls that are urgent or necessary and keep internet use to a minimum,” said Berlingeri, adding that “it’s important that citizens remain calm and patient during emergencies, as service interruptions often happen.”

“In any part of the world, telephone, internet and cable television services can be affected by the impact of a tropical system, whether it be due to heavy rains, lightning, winds or interruptions in the electricity service,” she said, noting that one of the main challenges for telecom companies during the hurricane season is dealing with power interruptions, since the technological infrastructure requires energy to operate.

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

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