Mexican Carriers Come to the Aid of Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans are “exasperated” by the patchy cell service of AT&T Inc, T-Mobile US Inc, and Sprint Corp. That’s why many were turning to Claro Puerto Rico, a subsidiary of America Movil owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, Reuters reported on Monday.

Eleven days after Maria hit, Claro, the island’s number two cellular operator, had restored service to approximately 310,000 customers. Claro prepared prior to the storm with power generators, diesel, batteries, and vehicles ready 72 hours before Maria struck, according to the account. U.S.based carriers also pre-staged equipment too, and have been shipping supplies on planes and ships. Carriers are coordinating service restoration efforts and opening their networks to each other’s customers, activating a roaming service so people can connect to whatever network is available.

AT&T, which has 36 percent of the island’s active wireless customers, according to the account, stated Thursday its temporary cell sites were carrying nine million calls and five million texts per day. Sprint said its towers are “largely intact,” Inside Towers reported.  

T-Mobile is making progress with repairs and service but noted that “it’s going to be a long road to recovery.” Verizon does not have its own network in Puerto Rico, providing service through a roaming agreement with Claro, reported Reuters.

The FCC reported 84.6 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico were out of service as of Thursday morning. That compares to 88.3 percent as of Monday. The island’s mostly destroyed power grid is a big part of the problem.

October 6, 2017     


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