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Telecom Tweets of the Week: Puerto Rico networks devastated

While mobile networks on the mainland weathered Hurricane Harvey rather well and were speedily resuscitated after Irma, Puerto Rico’s telecom situation is still a mess after a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. According to the most recent update from the Federal Communications Commission, 80 to 100 percent of cell sites are still down across almost nearly the entire island.

“Somehow, despite having no means of communication other than word of mouth and maybe a battery-operated radio, Puerto Ricans discovered precisely where cell towers appeared to work — and flocked to those locations.” (Full story linked below)

Verizon has put up $1 million toward general relief efforts. Facebook has said that it is sending employees to the island to help get telecom systems back online, which will be a massive challenge with power still out to much of the territory.

Ajit Pai, head of the FCC, said this week that Apple ought to turn on FM chips in iPhones so that people could still receive emergency transmissions and information during emergencies.

Only it’s not quite that easy, apparently; especially since newer iPhone models don’t even have FM chips.

Speaking of Apple, bringing LTE to the Apple Watch enables some clunky-but-doable hacking (SIM switching) to make an iOS device (gasp!) work with an Android phone.

Elsewhere on Twitter: In a stroll down memory lane, FastCompany revisits the rise and fall of mobile virtual network operator Amp’d Mobile. If there’s one thing that is most interesting about having been in the wireless industry as long as I have, it’s seeing what ultimately succeeds versus what is a flash in the pan. Premium MVNOs were a very big mid-aught flash that got panned.

For your weekly, “well, that’s pretty cool”: Using cellular towers (microwave backhaul in particular) to gauge rainfall because of impacts to signal strength. This is a fascinating use of network data, and while in developing countries, cell towers can provide information that otherwise simply wouldn’t be available, the article also makes the point that in some markets, such network data could represent a new revenue stream.



Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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