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FCC: Industry Faces 'Monumental Task' in Katrina's Wake
[September 07, 2005]

FCC: Industry Faces 'Monumental Task' in Katrina's Wake


By TED GLANZER
TMCnet Communications and Broadband Columnist
 
The communications industry faces a monumental task in restoring the infrastructure and services in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, according to a joint statement released on Tuesday by Federal Communications Commissioners Kevin Martin (Chairman), Kathleen Abernathy, Michael J. Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.


 
"Hurricane Katrina severely shook the communications network in the Gulf Coast and restoring all these links will be as challenging a communication mission as we have ever confronted," the statement said.

 
Nevertheless, the commissioners expressed their confidence that service providers will do everything within their power to restore communications in areas hit hardest by the hurricane.
 
"We commend the rapid response we have witnessed from all segments of the communications industry," the statement said.  "We know that the industry, like those of us at the Commission, is sparing no effort in restoring service to the Gulf Coast."
 
The commissioners acknowledged the efforts made by industry employees thus far.
 
"Our deepest thanks go out to the thousands of communications company employees who, at great sacrifice, have been working nonstop for the past week to repair the communications infrastructure that is relied upon by the entire nation," the statement said.
 
For its part, the FCC has provided "regulatory relief to facilitate restoration efforts," which includes the following:
 
• Permitting carriers, both wireline and wireless, to temporarily disconnect subscribers' telephone service, upon request, to avoid being billed.  Carriers are required to reinstate a subscriber's number when service is restored.
 
• Temporarily lifting the restrictions placed on wireline carriers in the affected areas regarding the practice known as "slamming," which is the illegal changing of a subscriber's telecommunications service provider.  Thus, carriers serving the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi may temporarily become service providers to customers who are not able to access service because of the hurricane.
 
• To assist in the disaster relief and coordination effort, the FCC on Sept. 2 reassigned the toll-free number 1-800-RED-CROSS to the American Red Cross.  "[W]e conclude that reassigning this toll free number is a critical step in facilitating the Nation's response to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina," the Order said.
 
• The commission's Media Bureau on Sept. 2 suspended its rules to permit noncommercial educational radio and television stations in New Orleans to rebroadcast commercial broadcast stations' programming.  The special relief, according to a news release, was granted to "bring immediate [life-saving] and other important information to the residents of New Orleans in the most expeditious manner possible."
 
• Waived the commission's rules regarding number portability and assignment rules to permit carriers to port telephone numbers geographically outside of rate centers.
 
The commissioners concluded their statement by offering their "thoughts and prayers" to "the countless victims of this tragedy and their families."
 
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Ted Glanzer is assistant editor for TMCnet. For more articles by Ted Glanzer, please visit:
 
 

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