FCC plans to make Twitter, mobile networks disaster proof
'It's an essential part of life'
The Federal Communications Commission is to have a series of talks around the US to figure out how to stop mobile network outages during natural disasters.
A quarter of cell towers on the East coast were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy late last month and the FCC field hearings will focus on the problems service providers, state and local officials, emergency personnel and consumers had before, during and after the storm.
"This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the resilience of communications networks," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said.
"As our thoughts and sympathies remain with those who have suffered loss and damage as a result of Superstorm Sandy, I urge all stakeholders to engage constructively in the period ahead.”
The hearings will start early next year and will discuss ways to keep mobile phone towers up and running and keep Wi-Fi operating. If services do go out, the FCC wants to discuss how to get them back quickly and what failsafes could support them - eg, back-up power.
The decision to hold the hearings comes after New York senator Chuck Schumer (D) called on the commission last weekend to work with responders and industry on how to keep communications online.
"Mobile communication has become an essential part of our lives, and increasing its reliability must be a top priority," Schumer said of the hearings. "I'd like to thank Chairman Genachowski and the FCC for their good work during the storm, and for beginning to tackle this important issue so quickly after." ®
In the event of a natural disaster,
The FCC want's a reliable communication service that reroutes around broken nodes and doesn't depend on one single node. So that In the event of a nuclear war, generals can get access to high quality p*rn **.
How exactly are they going to implement a hurricane, earthquake and volcano proof radio mast, that usually sits on top of buildings that are not as secure. And of course there will be the problem of power, how long do they expect a small UPS to stay alive?
** joke by Three Dead Trolls.
I went through some of the worst with Sandy. First the landline phone went dead. Next, cell phones could no longer make calls. Then text messaging became slower and slower. I could only send one SMS text message per hour. 4G/3G began to fail. The most reliable communications was Twitter for a couple of days until even that began to go quiet. I was reduced to listening to a battery powered AM radio and lost all other contact with the outside world for several days.
Yea, we really need disaster proof communications.
When the tsunami disaster hit Japan a couple of years back, mobile coverage was restored within hours to aid the emergency response, despite terrible loss of life and total devastation over large areas. This was done by deploying small cells in minivans, each with an extendable antenna and using satellite for backhaul. Low power consumption (from the vehicle), backhaul flexibility and self-configuration made this possible. A separate effort involved setting-up a network of generator-powered phone charging stations so that people could continue to use their mobiles.