FCC Hurricane Michael after-action report

Mel Beckman mel at beckman.org
Sat May 11 14:52:11 UTC 2019

This is what I tell outage complainers during natural disasters, such as the fires in California that recently took out a lot of power and communications:

“Stop whining about how long it is taking to repair your Internet, your cell phone service, or your cable TV. You didn’t pay anything extra to recover from natural disasters, and none of us in the field are getting paid anything extra to restore your services.

No, we don’t know how long it will take. It takes what it takes. That you don’t get instant gratification doesn’t make us incompetent. It makes you ungrateful.

It’s a natural disaster. These are not scheduled. Your outage is nobody’s fault. We don’t have a duty to mitigate all conceivable failures.

It takes time to repair. We’re not cheating you, or loafing around. We don’t owe you any special attention because of your status or reputation.

So quit whining and be thankful you’re alive, and hopefully you haven’t lost too much. Maybe pitch in and help those who have.“

I also send this to ignorant journalists and grandstanding politicians.

-mel via cell

On May 11, 2019, at 4:29 AM, Mike Bolitho <mikebolitho at gmail.com<mailto:mikebolitho at gmail.com>> wrote:

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.


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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