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[liberationtech] Hurricane Maria: Summary of communication status... and lack thereof

Yosem Companys ycompanys at
Tue Sep 26 21:18:50 PDT 2017

From: Sean Donelan <sean at>

Things are better and worse in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.
Help is needed, but anyone wanting to help in the field, be certain you
understand what you would be doing, and whether you are actually helping or
hindering on the ground efforts.

>From Washington Post:
[U.S. FEMA Director] Long also warned people not involved with the relief
effort to stay away.

“If you’re going to Puerto Rico right now, it should be for only a
life-sustaining, life-support mission,” he said. “Because everybody that’s
trying to get in that’s not supporting that is getting in the way.”

According to reports, the major (but not named) telecommunication companies
met today with the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Bureau about
coordinating restoration efforts.  Several companies have agreed to joint
repairts.  Instead of each company sending multiple crews to the shared
cell sites, they will agree to divide the work among all the companies.

This will distribute more repair crews from all participating companies to
more cell sites from different companies around the island.

Claro, the ILEC, is the only company that has publically confirmed the
joint repair agreement.  AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint also have repair crews
on the island, but I haven't been able to confirm which companies have
signed the joint repair agreement.

Claro also said they've re-connected 55% of its Central Offices, including
voice, data and long distance.  Once again, I'm guessing this is
inter-office trunks, and not local subscriber loops.

The FCC reports 2,429 of 2,671 cell sites (90.9%) are out of service in
Puerto Rico.  And 65 out of 106 cell sites (61.3%) are out of service in
the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Broadcast Radio and Television

14 AM stations on the air on Puerto Rico
8 FM stations on the air on Puerto Rico
2 TV stations on the air on Puerto Rico

Special notice: On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 2:20pm Easter Time,
FEMA will be conducting a scheduled national test of the Emergency Alert
System.  This national test was scheduled in July, 2017. The test will take
about a minute, and sound like a typical monthly EAS test "This is a
national test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test."

Most people probably won't pay attention to the national EAS test on
Wednesday. But there are always few news stories about some people being
alarmed by the national test.

If there is an *new* emergency or severe weather at the time, the national
test will be rescheduled for October 4, 2017.  Although the disasters in
Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands are continuing, the national test will
be a very brief interruption on radio and TV on the islands. The
telecommunications damage in PR and USVI will be a good test how well the
EAS works during extreme telecommunications damage.
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