back to article As Hurricane Ian hits, FCC rules cell carriers must help each other in disasters

The Federal Communications Commission today issued rules codifying a voluntary 2016 agreement between cellular networks that they cover for their competitors knocked offline during a natural or cyber disaster. The Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative (MDRI) requires all facilities-based mobile network operators, defined as …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    Could be a mixed blessing

    No doubt the small operators will be skewered by this but it's almost certain the big ones will find was to subvert it for their own ends.

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    If there was any altruism at all...

    ...this would be something they'd do anyway. Open up their network to all and sundry during a disaster, billing suspended. It can't be that hard and would be great PR for little real cost.

  3. ITS Retired

    What? cooperate with our competitors for something other than increasing each others profits? The nerve of some people.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      It can be mutually beneficial. There's a mobile Telco that always rushes in with truck-mounted cell towers to provide free service after disasters. They say it's serving the community but it's pushing the product too. Phones usually display the telco name while roaming.

  4. an.other_tech

    This should have been done from the start.

    Of course here in the UK we can access any network for a 999 call.

    America is much larger, but the idea is still logical.

    Radio hams have a really decent disaster system and there are lots of them working for free with the support and either free or heavily discounted equipment from the major manufacturers.

    This is not generally done here in the UK. The voluntary aid societies such as Red cross and St Johns had disaster planning with every local council and government, also Raynet was involved too. But over the last 20 years things have really gone downhill and if anyone thinks relying on the UK cellular network and airwave (which relys on the same equipment) they need to look again at the real world usage of such critical comms networks.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Of course here in the UK we can access any network for a 999 call.

      America is much larger, but the idea is still logical.

      Radio hams have a really decent disaster system and there are lots of them working for free with the support and either free or heavily discounted equipment from the major manufacturers."

      911 in the US works regardless of whether there is a SIM in the phone or not. I keep a couple of my old mobes charged up just in case.

      I'd love to get some free or discounted radio gear. As a licensed Ham, I already have a few I've purchased. I even got a connect with ISS one field day so I can definitely cover some distance. Amateur radio operators are always ready to provide communications in the event of a disaster. Some government hacks that occasionally think it would be a good thing to sell off the radio spectrum we use and start charging a fee for licensing should keep in mind that they are getting a massive distributed civilian comms network for free. A lot of it can operate off-grid. Local clubs are also more than happy to assist search and rescue or any other operation where communications are difficult or offline.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        I even got a connect with ISS one field day so I can definitely cover some distance.

        It's only 250 miles away.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      This should have been done from the start, for both mobile and broadband services. Rural areas might get service, if urban areas weren't being served by mutiple connections, we could deploy more widely, instead of over the same ground. I'm wondering what's going to happen come 2025 and the PSTN switch off in the UK, and whether all the areas currently served will get broadband so they can still have a phone.

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