Fifty-five counties along the Texas and Louisiana coasts have been designated as disaster zones after former Hurricane Harvey dumped more than three feet of rain in the region over the past several days. But while many are stranded by rising flood waters, the Federal Communications Commission indicated in a Monday report most lines of wireless communication are holding out against the deluge.
As of around 11 a.m. Monday, the Commission said approximately 95 percent of cell sites across the affected area remained online. The FCC noted, though, that number was down from 96 percent the day prior. Only 3.5 percent of cell sites were reported down in Harris County, home to the city of Houston, which has been the subject of much flood coverage by national media.
However, that proportion of online and offline sites was flipped in some harder hit areas northeast of Corpus Christi. Nearly 95 percent of cell sites in Aransas were out of commission as of Monday morning, as were 85 percent of cell sites in Refugio and 74 percent of cell sites in Calhoun. More than a third of cell sites were down in Goliad (35 percent), Jackson (35 percent), and San Patricio (43 percent).
All told, 26 counties in Texas registered some cell site outages. Just one county in Louisiana, Plaquemines, reported downed sites. The FCC did not break out the outage numbers by carrier.
All four U.S. wireless carriers hunkered down ahead of the storm, announcing deployments of backup generators, pre-positioned fuel, cells-on-wheels, and emergency response teams. In the wake of the storm, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint have all also announced they will credit call, text, and data fees for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“Thanks to wireless, millions of people in the path of Hurricane Harvey have been able to seek help and connect with family and loved ones in the face of this unprecedented event,” CTIA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker commented. “I’m proud of the planning and close collaboration of carriers to prepare for the storm and the ongoing work to both maintain and restore service.”
The FCC’s report also noted how 911 services are performing in the aftermath, as call volumes shot up sevenfold. According to the Commission, a total of 16 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) were down Monday morning, marking an improvement from 17 on Sunday. More details here.
Neither Texas nor Louisiana has signed on to AT&T’s FirstNet buildout. However, Texas in 2014 signed a Spectrum Manager Lease Agreement with FirstNet for the operation of an LTE public safety network using FirstNet’s licensed Band 14 frequencies. More on that here.