Hurricanes Ian and Fiona have created catastrophic damage to impacted areas, with telecom networks not escaping the storms’ fury. The FCC reports on areas impacted through its daily Communications Status Report.
Hurricane Ian has devastated many parts of Florida, with the west coast and the Ft. Myers area the most heavily impacted. Unfortunately, Ian isn’t finished, having regained hurricane strength and set to also impact the East coast of the U.S., with the Carolinas expected to take the brunt of the storm.
As of 12:00p EDT on September 29, the FCC reports over 525K customers in Florida are without telephone, television, and/or Internet services, a number that seems drastically low, considering over 2 million are without power.
Of the 14K cell towers in Ian’s path, 1,552 were reported out of service in this FCC report, or close to 11%. But in the hardest hit areas of Ft. Myers, more than 65% of towers are out of service.
These numbers will probably rise over the next day or so, before starting to come down. Just over a year ago, Hurricane Ida created extensive damage to the mobile wireless network in Louisiana, with over half of all towers down at one point.
Hurricane Telecom Damage
As Hurricane Ian is getting much of the attention, it has overshadowed Hurricane Fiona, which impacted all of U.S. territory Puerto Rico, beginning on September 18th.
The FCC reports close to 128K customers in Puerto Rico are still without telephone, television, and/or Internet services. But again, that number seems low given that the entire territory was without power shortly after Fiona hit the island.
Of the 2,522 cell towers in the impacted area of Puerto Rico, 239, or 9.5% are still out of service. Puerto Rico was still recovering from the 2017 storm of Hurricane Maria, which severely damaged the island’s infrastructure.
As Ian makes its way through the mid-Atlantic region, more network infrastructure will be impacted and unfortunately, more people will be out of service. The FCC’s Network Outage Reporting System tracks these developments with summary reports listed daily here.