Federal agents from multiple law enforcement agencies are helping to restore communications in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Postal Service and others worked with the Air National Guard and the Air Force to bring and erect at least five AT&T portable cell phone towers to the San Juan area, according to the Department of Defense and the carrier. Normally, the towers are trucked in to a location; this marked the first time the mobile cell towers were flown to a location in need, according to AT&T.
“We can put them wherever they are needed and once an area gains stable cell communication, we can move them to the next location,” said Col. Rick Seymour, Alabama National Guard, who is helping to coordinate the effort. Moving the portable towers required the Air Force’s heaviest airlifter – the C-5 Galaxy, flown by the 436th Airlift Wing based at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to the Air Mobility Command.
The equipment included satellite cells on light trucks and emergency communications vehicles. Members of AT&T Network Disaster Recovery Team use these vehicles to restore WiFi, LAN lines and wired telephone service, according to the carrier. Once the towers were driven to their assigned locations, they were working within one hour. After permanent towers are repaired, these towers can be moved again.