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FCC Approved Funding to Fix Island’s Telecommunications

By on October 5, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will assign $76.9 million to help restore telecommunications on the Island, said governor Ricardo Rosselló during his morning press briefing.“The FCC approved the government’s petition to destine $76.9 million to repair infrastructure damage in the telecom’s range. That is positive in terms of our efforts for enhancing telecommunications,” said the governor. He went on to argue that whether or not said amount is enough, it eases the economic burden of fixing telecommunications on the island.

Rosselló also explained that the government is taking steps to ensure that first responders will not loose access to telecommunications if faced with another crisis. According to the governor, a collaboration with First Net will secure broadband to government employees and other personnel.

In the wake of the storm, the telecommunications system of the island collapsed and 15 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico only 26.5% of antennas are working. However, the government has installed around 10 Cell on Wheels satellites, also known as Sat COWs. These satellites are bringing communication access to previously isolated areas.

“The Sat COWs have been sort of like shock absorbers, allowing us to expand our communications. Even though it’s at a three mile radius range, it has been very effective, allowing people that didn’t have communications to establish those communication routes,” Rosselló said. He added that the municipalities of Quebradillas and Luquillo recently received the Sat COWs.

The government’s estimate is that these portable satellites have facilitated about one million phone calls and 4 million text messages.

Aside from the government’s efforts to ensure communications on the Island, Rosselló stated that efforts to restore telecommunications infrastructure have been lead by the private sector.

While there are 423 cellphone antennas working out of a total of 1,600, the landlines on the island have been working at 100% for a week, informed the governor. Furthermore, including all other elements of telecommunications, the government reports that this sector is working at about 45%.

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