Letter to FCC Draws Attention to Need for Post-Disaster Communications Policies

On July 25, the Benton Foundation, Public Knowledge and 16 other organizations sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Clyburn. The letter asks the FCC to take the lead role in defining acceptable post-disaster changes to Title II services. This comes in the wake of Verizon’s implementation of Voice Link on Fire Island. The premature rollout threatens to raise a precedent that puts Americans at risk after natural disaster situations.

The letter explains why the FCC’s guidance on what responsibilities carriers have to rebuild in the aftermath of disasters is critical to carriers, who need certainty, and consumers, who need reassurance.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“Because there is currently no developed framework for post-disaster recovery, the response by Verizon and state, local, and federal policymakers has been improvised. This should not be the template for post-disaster recovery in the future, and should not serve as a model for the future of the telecommunications network. Rather, the Commission should provide guidance to carriers and communities on appropriate responses when the physical network for providing Title II services is destroyed or severely damaged and the network operator does not intend to eventually replace the network with a substantially similar network offering the same Title II services.

“At the same time, the Commission should create a more developed framework for post-disaster recovery. Many months have passed since Sandy, and damaged communities still do not have any certainty as to the future of their communications services. This should be unacceptable going forward.”

Read the letter

Read a Public Knowledge blog post on this topic