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FCC Plans Sandy Field Hearings

Focus is on challenges faced by communications service providers; agency asks about studio, transmitter power

The FCC plans to hold several field hearings on the challenges faced by communications networks in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Though the agency focused on wired and wireless phones in the announcement, the commission also included broadcasting, noting its experts will want to know how the power held up in studios and at transmitter sites.

Specifically, the agency is asking things like: When commercial power is unavailable, how long should back-up power sources be expected to last?

Beginning in the New Year, the hearings will focus on the challenges faced by communications service providers, state and local officials, emergency personnel and consumers before, during and after Sandy as well as other natural disasters. Business representatives, public safety officials, engineering and academic experts, consumers and other stakeholders will take part.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski characterized Sandy an “unprecedented storm that revealed new challenges.”

New York Senator Chuck Schumer had called for the commission to develop a roadmap to better protect critical communications functions during major disasters.