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Hurricane Recovery Client Alert: FCC Assistance to Affected Communications Networks

August 31, 2017 (Updated September 12, 2017)

Some communications networks damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may require emergency authority from the FCC to restore services and facilities.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have wreaked havoc with some communications systems across the Southeastern United States. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC’s operating bureaus are preparing to handle requests for emergency authority to restore service and facilities in connection with the hurricanes.

In addition to affecting cellphone networks and 911 facilities, many companies may find that the storm and resulting floodwaters have damaged or displaced internal communications infrastructure that enables employees to communicate at a distance, connect multiple company locations, or track assets. FCC-licensed wireless systems and devices also are used for monitoring, telemetry, and in industrial control systems such as a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).

Typical facilities that may be affected operate under FCC licenses issued for

  • satellite earth stations,
  • point-to-point microwave antennas,
  • mobile business radios,
  • maritime radios, and
  • submarine cables.

Utilities, railroads, large manufacturing and retail operations, airlines, delivery businesses, and similar enterprises also are likely to be affected in the days and weeks to come.

How We Can Help

Morgan Lewis’s telecommunications, media, and technology practice has assisted many companies in obtaining emergency authority for communications facilities from the FCC, including in times of disaster. We stand ready to help companies—on an expedited basis—to obtain new FCC authority or to relicense communications networks that may have been harmed by the hurricanes and their aftermath.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of the lawyers listed below if you have questions about these issues or are looking for assistance.

Washington, DC
Catherine Wang
Danielle Burt