As Hurricane Irma leaves the battered Southeastern coast, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is taking the opportunity to stress the importance of a bill currently up for debate in the U.S. Senate. According to the New York Daily News, H.R. 588 will require cell phones to work on all carriers’ networks in the event of natural disasters. Originally presented by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) in January, the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act already passed the House of Representatives. Although it places more requirements on carriers, the bill will also provide telecommunications companies with emergency access to repairs reserved for utilities, says NJ.com.
The bill was inspired by cell service outages in New York after Hurricane Sandy struck the state in 2013, and will likely be attached to relief bills for Florida and Texas. Schumer lamented, “When these cell towers fall and as power lines collapse, cell service takes a hard hit. When someone is stranded and a cell tower’s down and they can’t call for help, that’s an emergency.” Besides requiring carriers to enable universal transmission during storms, the legislation will also establish a system to send 911 calls over WiFi if cellular access is unavailable.
Published September 12, 2017