Post-Hurricane Telecom Repair Bill Rises to $1.5B

Puerto Rico’s telecommunications sector in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria has suffered losses that have risen to $1.5 billion, according to an assessment from the country’s regulator JRT (Junta Reglamentadora de Telecomunicaciones de Puerto Rico), cited by local daily El Nuevo Dia. The September 2017 hurricanes damaged some 96 percent of mobile phone towers and 85 percent of underground fiber-optic networks, with the lack of electricity, theft and vandalism aggravating the situation, said JRT. However, some 95 percent of the fixed network and 89 percent of the mobile network (2,329 of 2,671 towers) had been restored by January 2, 2018.

The FCC freed up $77 million from its Universal Service Fund in October of 2017 to pay for repairs of communication networks and restore services in Puerto Rico, while Liberty and T-Mobile announced investments of $119 million and $59 million respectively, to restore services, Inside Towers reported.

As of January 10, 276 cell tower sites, or just over 10 percent, remained out of service, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System. That means nearly 90 percent are working. No county had more than 50 percent not in service.

January 12, 2018

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