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FCC Holds Hearings on Communication Failures During Sandy

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Charging cell phones at Hammel Houses in Far Rockaway, Queens. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The Federal Communications Commission held its first hearings into telecommunication failures during Sandy in Lower Manhattan Tuesday.

Jack Schnirman, the city manager of Long Beach, on Long Island's outer barrier, pointed to serious gaps in the response by mobile companies after the storm.

"Long Beach reached out to one of the carrier's customer support departments, explained the devastation and inquired about the carrier deploying a cell on wheels," he said. "The customer service rep replied, 'you might want to look that up on the internet, I don't know what that is.' Well obviously, ironically, we had no internet at that time."

Mobile company representatives said events like Sandy show the need for upgrades to the system.

"The conversion to newer technologies was validated by Sandy," said Jim Gerace, Verizon's vice president for government affairs in New York. "Where we had fiber optic cable here in Lower Manhattan, those customers were restored immediately after the switches came back up."

The hearing was one of two held in the region, aimed at finding solutions to prevent future telecommunication failures during disasters like Sandy.

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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