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

Ellery Biddle ellery.biddle at
Fri Sep 29 07:46:56 PDT 2017

Thank you so much for forwarding this, Yosem.

Can anyone offer links or information about resources that *people on the
ground* can use to set up comms networks or at least charge phones? I've
seen some stuff floating around, but most is in English. Simple how-to
guides would be hugely helpful right now.

I've gotten some requests for help from Puerto Ricans in the US who are
trying to connect with relatives and help get comms networks running there,
but it's not really my area, so I've been looking for tips.

On Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 12:18 AM, Yosem Companys <ycompanys at>

> 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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Ellery Roberts Biddle
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society
@ellerybiddle <>
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