Florida Governor demands a network recovery plan
Network recovery operations in hard-hit areas of the Florida Panhandle are ongoing and Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Oct. 16 joined Ajit Pai, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, in criticizing carriers’ efforts.
Verizon was particularly impacted due to what the company described as “unprecedented damage” to its fiber infrastructure. Verizon said on Oct. 16 it would waive three months of service fees for customers in Bay and Gulf counties. Follow Verizon’s recovery efforts here.
AT&T said on Oct. 17 its Florida network is “operating at more than 99% of normal.” The company deployed a drone-mounted cell to Mexico Beach; the “flying COW” sits about 200 feet above ground level and provides communications for customers and public safety officials.
Verizon has taken the brunt of the criticism from Scott and Pai with the governor earlier this week reportedly meeting with Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s chief network officer.
Scott, in a statement, said he wants a plan from carriers detailing how they’ll restore service; assuring customers won’t be penalized for switching carriers; and waiving October fees for impacted subscribers.
“Floridians deserve to be treated fairly and with transparency,” Scott said. “Families understand that the telecommunications industry, like the power companies and other services, experienced catastrophic damage to vital infrastructure – but that does not change our expectation that each telecommunications company will be open and communicate a clear plan on how they intend to quickly restore service while treating families fairly.”
On Tuesday Pai said in a statement that “slow progress” with network recovery efforts “is completely unacceptable. While the FCC has been in regular contact with companies serving the affected areas, I’m concerned that their actions on the ground aren’t matching the urgency that we have conveyed during those conversations.”
Pai demanded carriers “immediately disclose public to Floridians how they will quickly restore service.” He’s also initiated an investigation to be led by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
Pai’s colleague Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was a little more circumspect in comments posted to Twitter. She listed storms Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Maria and Michael. “It’s time to acknowledge once-in-a-lifetime storms now occur every year. And it’s time for the [FCC] to take a hard look at how it has reduced network oversight and ask if this is truly the best way to restore communications after disaster.”