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Hurricane Harvey Telecom Restoration Continues PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 11:04

As remnants of Harvey continue to affect eastern Texas and southwest Louisiana, the number of inoperable cell tower sites continues to drop. Of the 55 counties in both states impacted by the storm, 3.8 percent were out of service on mid-morning Thursday, compared to 4.2 percent on Wednesday. The figures come from the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). There are no Texas counties with greater than 40 percent of cell sites out of service and all sites are operating in Louisiana. Of the total 7,804 sites, 295 were out of service.

Several telecom companies have operations in and around the areas that have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and their employees are working 24/7 in emergency operations centers to keep networks up and running, as well as restore service in areas around Houston that have been flooded.

Verizon pledged $10 million for relief efforts, one of several pledges of aid that have been offered by broadband providers in recent days. Verizon says it’s sending Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS) to help provide extra network capacity in south Texas, where the FCC says a majority of cell towers in two counties – Aransas and Refugio – were still knocked out on Tuesday thanks to high waters. 

Mobile broadband providers, including Verizon and AT&T, are offering credits to consumers in the area, including extra data, text and phone services to help subscribers who have been displaced by the storm and trying to stay online and in touch with loved ones, insurance companies and others who will be vital in recovery efforts.

CenturyLink, which provides service in several areas hit hard by the storm, including Port Aransas, said it has had some customers lose service. It is providing free Emergency Call Forwarding for customers impacted by the storm, which will allow consumers and businesses to forward their calls to a different number for the next month.

The FCC reported that at least 283,590 cable or wireline subscribers in the area were still without service. That was an increase of roughly 100,000 from the weekend, as more switching centers have gone down because of a lack of electricity. More centers have begun relying on back-up generators, which require a constant fuel source.

The following 55 counties are in the current geographic area that is part of DIRS (the “disaster area”). 

Louisiana: Acadia, Assumption, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion

Texas: Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Duval, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kenedy, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, McMullen, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Wharton, Willacy, Wilson

FEMA asked the FCC to extend the data collection to nine additional counties in Texas, for a total of 64 counties, for this morning’s report.

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