Pai Credits DAS, WiFi for Keeping Harvey Evacuees Connected
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was on the ground in Texas this week, touring areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. He focused on the performance of communications networks during and after the storm.
Pai visited the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network on Tuesday, the largest 911 system in the state. Many dispatchers who had been moved to the facility from another public safety answering point, worked continuously throughout the storm and several slept in the call center as their own homes were flooded, according to the agency. “Officials told me they received more than 3,100 calls per hour at the peak of Harvey—that’s 10 times the normal volume for 911 calls,” said Pai.
The Chairman also visited the George R. Brown Convention Center and met with representatives of Crown Castle and Smart City Networks, which shared how the two companies worked to supply online connectivity for thousands of Harvey victims who took shelter at the Convention Center. He said access to high-speed internet was “critical” for people at the Center to stay connected with their families and get information about the storm. “Thankfully, with the dense deployment of wireless infrastructure like distributed antenna systems and innovative uses of WiFi, people were able to get that access, as well as power needed to keep devices charged.”
On Wednesday morning, Chairman Pai visited the State Operations Center in Austin, which is managed and staffed by the Texas Department of Emergency Management. He met with Todd Early, Deputy Assistant Director at the Texas Department of Public Safety, Greg Boren, Regional Emergency Communication Coordinator at FEMA, and other members of senior public safety management. DPS and FEMA officials told Pai and his team, the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System was crucial during Harvey.