FCC Hurricane Michael after-action report

Mike Bolitho mikebolitho at gmail.com
Sat May 11 11:28:57 UTC 2019

Trying not to get political, here goes...

Something important to keep in mind: The current administration has been
getting slammed for their lack of response in the aftermath of Michael
since the hurricane hit. A lot of that criticism revolves around
communications infrastructure and FEMA's lack of assistance. The current
administration has, time and time again, used federal agencies
(specifically their presidential appointees) to defend the administration's
actions or inactions. I have read the full report and it is more or less a
thinly veiled hit piece. I'm not going to link them here (they are easy
enough to find via Google) but there are several very good articles written
by reputable tech journalists that go into greater detail responding to the
report. Worth checking out.

I say all of that because most of us like to hate on telecom companies
(many times rightly so) but I don't think they are entirely to blame here.
There's nothing Verizon or AT&T can do if their backhaul is cut by a tree
or some third party clean up crew. The report is a gross oversimplification
of how telecommunication infrastructure works. I think anyone here that has
ever worked a storm like this can attest to the complexity and difficulty
you run into during recovery. Hanlon's Razor and all but this is the FCC
and I would hope they would know better.

Speaking specifically to point 51, it's impossible to coordinate between
the thousands of crews working to clean things up and repair physical
infrastructure after a massive storm like this. Many of the people doing
physical cleanup are volunteers that are fully independent of any governing
body or company. It is not a telco's responsibility to know when and where
those crews are working. Further, even if those crews we're calling in and
letting each telco know exactly where they were, what does that provide
other than an impossibly large and fluid dataset to parse for any
meaningful information.

- Mike Bolitho

On Thu, May 9, 2019, 4:43 PM Sean Donelan wrote:

> The FCC has released its report and analysis of Hurricane Michael impact
> on communications: preparation, effect and recovery.
> https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-report-communication-impacts-hurricane-michael-0
> Conclusions and Recommendations
> 51. Backhaul outages loomed large as an impediment to communications
> recovery. Uncoordinated post-storm recovery efforts between and among
> communications, utility, and debris removal teams created unnecessary
> delays to a speedy return to service. Customers who had communications
> service restored – only to lose it again almost immediately because of a
> fiber cut – provide a clear example of how better cross-sector
> coordination could have improved the restoration process.
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