FCC Encourages Wireless Carriers to Enable Roaming in Ian-Impacted Areas

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The FCC has been “reaching out to carriers, encouraging them to make roaming available” in areas impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told reporters after yesterday’s agency meeting. She cited Commission personnel who spent the night with the Sarasota, FL fire department, helping to keep communications working after Ian struck.

Inside Towers reported that one of the actions the Commission took ahead of the storm’s landfalls was sending agency personnel to Florida and Puerto Rico. Commissioner Brendan Carr said that was one thing the FCC did to improve the voluntary wireless resiliency framework.

Rosenworcel shared with her colleagues in June draft rules to improve the reliability and resiliency of wireless networks during emergencies. The changes would order carrier participation in the framework and mandate roaming during disasters. 

Carr too, encouraged mobile wireless carriers yesterday to enable roaming in hurricane impacted areas. “You can have a cell phone on one carrier that has been essentially bricked if that site tends to go down, but you can get another form of coverage from another carrier. As our regime continues to roll out, I would encourage carriers to move quickly on requests where roaming in an emergency is possible, where the [early] hours are vitally critical,” said Carr. 

Rosenworcel and Carr said yesterday that their trip last September to Louisiana following Hurricane Ida informed their latest actions. Officials on the ground in Louisiana described how network outages impacted their ability to respond to calls for help both during and in the aftermath of the storm. During that visit, public safety officials advocated for a more seamless approach to roaming during disasters, Inside Towers reported.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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