FCC explores emergency flying cellphone transmitters

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In a report last year, the FCC's public-safety bureau noted that hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters can cause mass power outages and destroy landline and wireless phone networks.

Some emergency responders might have satellite phones, but other people would lack the ability to communicate or call for help.

The FCC will explore regulations that would allow the government to launch aerial cell transmitters that could restore service in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The transmitters could be attached to unmanned drones or balloons.

One potential obstacle will be for the commission to find a way to avoid interfering with surviving communication networks.

The FCC's notice of inquiry asked for comments on the costs and benefits of the project, which wireless frequencies the transmitters should use and how to coordinate with other government agencies.