South FL Sees Most Tower Outages After Irma

We’re getting a first look at Florida’s communications after the state was ravaged by Hurricane Irma. More than 14,500 cell tower sites are in Florida. Of those, 3,973 or 27.4 percent, were out of service Monday due to the hurricane. The information was accurate as of mid-morning, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS).

In Florida, 50 percent or more of the sites were not operational in the following counties: Collier, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Monroe. Eighty percent are out in Monroe and 75 percent are out in Collier counties. In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands combined, 21.5 percent were out of service. That’s down from 26.9 percent on Sunday.

In Florida, a total of 27 emergency call centers are not operational; of those, 911 calls for 14 are not being re-routed; (Big Cypress Indian Reservation, Collier County EOC, Ft. Myers Police Department, Glades County Sheriff, Glades County Sheriff Back Up, Hardee County Back Up, Hendry County Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff, Lee County Emergency Dispatch Center EOC, Naples PD, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department, Homestead Air Force, Marathon SO, and Ocean Reef). 911 calls for the remainder are being re-routed. Eight TV stations and 26 radio stations are off the air.

In Puerto Rico, 19.4 percent of cell sites are out of service, down from 25 percent on Sunday. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 55.1 percent of cell sites are out of service, down from 57.9 percent the previous day.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC has been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other federal and state partners to monitor the status of communications networks in the areas affected by Irma. The agency deployed field staff to conduct surveys of the RF environment before Irma’s landfall. “When it is safe to proceed, the teams will re-sample the impacted areas to help determine the status of public safety land mobile radio and commercial broadcast services in the hardest hit regions,” said Pai.

In order to help prevent low-income customers from losing communications service during the recovery from the storm, the FCC has temporarily waived certain Lifeline rules. The FCC has also temporarily waived certain numbering rules to make sure that customers in affected areas can still have access to telecommunications services.

September 12, 2017

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