FCC Dem criticizes agency's hurricane response

FCC Dem criticizes agency's hurricane response
© Greg Nash

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says her agency needs to do more to help restore phone service in areas affected by the recent string of devastating hurricanes.

"After Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy @FCC held hearings to address network recovery. Why won’t agency do it for Harvey, Irma & Maria?” she tweeted Tuesday. “These are people struggling to make phone calls in the United States. @FCC must study networks in disaster. Stat.”

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have taken down cell and cable service in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico over the last month.

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Critics say the agency is responding slower than to previous hurricanes and are laying the blame on Republican Chairman Ajit Pai.

In 2012, the FCC announced that it would hold agency hearings within weeks of Superstorm Sandy, which battered the Northeast.

“Frankly, I think Pai is worried … that hearings will point to problems the FCC needs to solve through regulation,” Harold Feld, senior vice president at advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Gant News.

The FCC has defended itself by saying that it’s focused on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are still reeling after Hurricane Maria.

“There has been devastating damage to the communications infrastructure there, and that’s where we must focus our immediate attention,” an FCC spokesperson said in a statement to Gant News. “Once this crisis has passed, the Chairman looks forward to considering the ideas on next steps offered by all of his colleagues.”