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Commissioner Clyburn Statement on 2nd FCC National Hearing

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Released: February 28, 2013


2nd FCC National Hearing on Network Resilience and Reliability
San Francisco, California
Good afternoon everyone. I am very sorry that I could not join you in person. But allow me to
thank the Ames Research Center, the career staff of the FCC, and all others who made it possible, to hold
this critically important hearing.
As a native South Carolinian, I know all too well how terrifying catastrophic weather events can
be. And as an FCC Commissioner, I take very seriously the obligation Congress gave us, in the very first
section of the Communications Act, to promote safety of life and property, through the use of wire and
radio communications.
Three weeks ago, we held discussions in New York’s Lower Manhattan, and Hoboken, New
Jersey -- two areas that suffered substantial damage to their infrastructure and networks during Super
Storm Sandy. Millions experienced significant communications outages and we heard testimony from
first responders, communications service providers, and government officials about what went right, and
what went wrong. Then and during this, our second national hearing, we seek to explore ways that
stakeholders can promote greater network reliability so that we all have access to communications
services when we need them the most – during emergencies.
Those discussions highlighted a few issues worth noting. First, we tend to treat each network as
independent in our current telecommunications reliability framework. But the reality is that one network
is inextricably linked to the other. A person facing a storm surge’s rising waters, may have a wireless
device to call for help, but that call will not be answered by a dispatcher without dependable wireline and
electrical networks.
Second, we have to be prepared for the unexpected. As the fires in Breezy Point, New York
demonstrated, related disasters can quickly follow severe weather events. So, we need to be more nimble.
One way to do this is by continuously reviewing laws and regulations and eliminating those that have
unintentionally erected barriers to, for example, temporary cell towers being sited, and fuel trucks from
entering communities that desperately need help.
Third, we should ensure that we can handle calls from diverse communities, including those
facing communications difficulties such as language barriers or accessibility challenges. And what about
our warning network? Are emergency alerts able to be understood by all? True preparedness requires
clear communication.
We may not have as many wildfires or experience the magnitude and intensity of earthquakes as
the Golden State. But what is universally clear, is the fact that addressing the challenges we face, in
preparing for future disasters, will require constant review and fresh thinking. I look forward to
reviewing the testimony from the panelists. Thank you.

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