Hurricane Maria: Summary of communication status - and lack of

Sean Donelan sean at
Sat Sep 30 03:07:47 UTC 2017

The situation reports from Puerto Rico seems to be getting passed 
through public relations, so I'll try to add some context.

Public Safety
    Primary Public Safety Answering Point (9-1-1) center generator 
ran out of diesel fuel.  Switched to alternate PSAP.

   San Juan Police Department has restored its radio repeaters and 
police radio communications metro-wide. (translated from spanish, so I 
think I understood the technical translation).

Landline Central Offices
     813,546 subscribers (CIA World Factbook)

     390,000 subscribers in 52 municipalities with voice, data and long 
distance (Claro)
      Repaired fiber optic cable conntecting CO's in Fajardo and Rio 

      65% of inter-office Central Office connections restored island-wide.
      Remaining CO's have only local voice calling.

      Optico Fiber reports most of its infrastructure is intact, and has 
open WiFi hotspots outside its offices.

Wireless services
     3,227,281 subscribers (CIA World Factbook)

     29 municipalities have 0% working cell sites.  It appears carriers are 
repairing one tower in each county/municipality to improve island-wide 
coverage.  Several municipalities going from 0 to 1 cell site working.

     310,000 subscribers in 28 municipalities with working cell towers (Claro)

     34% of San Juan has working cell tower coverage (Claro)

     Cell on Wheels in Ponce (4 mile radius) serving 6,000 calls per hour, 
35,000 texts per hour (AT&T)

     Dorado, Tao Baja and Toa Alta have T-Mobile service (T-Mobile)

I don't know what FCC and PRTRB are counting:

     286 working cell sites out of 2671 (according to FCC report)
     96 working cell sites out of 1600 (according to PR Telecommunications 
Regulatory Board report)

     For context, the number of cell sites repaired each day since 
the end of Hurricane Maria is improving slowly - average less than 20 
sites a day, but some days its negative, i.e. more cell towers failing 
than repaired.

     On U.S. Virigin Islands, the number of cell sites out of service 
decreased initially, but has slowly increased for the last 5 days.

I created a spreadsheet of the FCC wirelss outage data from hurricane 
Harvey, Irma and Maria.

There is no consistent pattern between states, territories or hurricanes. 
Florida had the fatest wireless restoration, average 500 cell sites 
restored a day; while U.S. Virgin Islands averaged less than 1 
cell site restored.  But Florida was mostly restoring the electrical grid, 
which restored lots of cell sites.  Harvey was slow to start restoring 
cell sites, the tropical storm lasted for days; but less than 6% of cell 
sites were out of service.

Cable systems

      First official report from Liberty Cable Puerto Rico

      Most cable headends or in good condition, with backup generators. 
Internet connection to international circuits reconnected. Main fiber 
trunk between San Juan and Luquillo completed. Working to repair 
infrastructure and primary services such as physical plant, main 
repeater bases, fiber optic ring and fiber to distribution stations in 
neighborhoods. (LibertyPR)

Satellite Services and Satellite Phones

    As more satellite phones are distributed, social media and news 
reporters are saying satellite capacity is getting worse.  It may be user 
issues and lack of training, or running out of satellite bandwidth in the 

    American Red Cross driving a VSAT station between shelters, and 
setting up temporary hotspots for an hour at each shelter so people can 
contact family members.

More information about the NANOG mailing list