Tiny Percentage of LA, MS Cell Sites Outages Due to “Barry”

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The FCC activated its FCC Activates Disaster Information Reporting for Tropical Storm Barry on Friday. (It then deactivated DIRS on Monday). Barry began as a Category 1 Hurricane but weakened to a tropical storm when it made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday. Carriers, broadcasters and others were asked to begin sending reports Sunday morning. The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau now provides more information about why cell sites are out, including power outages to the sites, transport issues or damage. 

As of mid-day Monday, the latest information available, a total of 72 counties in Louisiana and Mississippi were in the disaster area. Just 0.5 percent of the cell sites were not operational, (down from 1.7 percent on Sunday) according to carriers who submit their information to the agency as part of their Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Agreement.

The bureau cautions the number of cell site outages in a specific area does not necessarily correspond to the availability of wireless service to consumers in that area. Wireless networks are often designed with numerous, overlapping cell sites that provide maximum capacity and continuity of service even when an individual site is inoperable. Moreover, carriers frequently use temporary facilities such as cells-on-wheels, increased power at operational sites, roaming agreements, or take other actions to maintain service to affected consumers during emergencies or other events that result in cell site outages.

In Louisiana, of the 4,075 cell sites served, just 25 were not working. Terrebonne Parish had the most reported cell cite outages — 5 out of 91 because of power outages. That compares to 13 out of 91 on Sunday. That was followed by St. Mary’s County, in which 4 out of 56 cell sites were not working — again due to lack of power. That compares to 9 out of 50 on Sunday.

Iberia Parish had the most cell site outages percentage-wise on Sunday — 17 percent, with 7 out of 41 not working: 3 due to lack of power, another 3 had transport issues and 1 was damaged. That number dropped to 1 site by Monday.

 In Mississippi, Amite and Sharkey Counties reported one cell site not working, out of 24 and 12 sites, respectively. Amite’s was out because of a lack of power and Sharkey’s had transport issues. Those numbers dropped to zero percent Monday. In fact, of the 1,284 cell sites served in the affected areas of Mississippi, none were reported to be out on Monday.

Broadcast-wise, 1 TV station (WNTZ-TV) out of 16 reported being off the air, both Sunday and Monday. 1 FM was off the air and no AMs were off the air.

July 16, 2019

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