More than a month after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a two-day visit to the island to understand the recovery efforts still in progress. After speaking with local officials and visiting a number of impacted sites, Pai recognized the challenges that Puerto Rico and its residents still face.
According to a summary issued by the commission, during his trip Pai visited various parts of San Juan and towns along the northeast Puerto Rico coast; he inspected a tower site and associated infrastructure in El Yunque National Forest; met with President Sandra Torres López and Associate Member Alexandra Fernández Navarro of the Telecommunications Regulatory Board; and attended a briefing hosted by FEMA.
Pai praised the efforts of the individuals and companies that have been a part of the recovery effort, including amateur radio operators, broadcasters, cable operators, fixed wireless companies, wireline carriers and mobile providers. “All of this work reflects the ethos I saw on many signs and t-shirts during my time on the island: ‘Puerto Rico Se Levanta’ (Puerto Rico is Rising),” said Pai.
“Recovering from this storm requires an all-hands-on-deck effort,” Pai was quoted in the release. “The FCC remains committed to doing everything we can to help restore communications networks as quickly as possible.”
To date, the FCC has assisted by providing $77 million in advanced universal service funding for the restoration of communications networks. It has also allowed fixed wireless providers to access 5 GHz spectrum and had FCC staff on the ground assisting in the recovery efforts.
“Looking ahead, we’re going to keep thinking creatively and doing proactively to help restore networks on the island,” said Pai, part of which he expects will include more funding in the months to come.
Click here for the most recent DIRS report for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.