Assemblyman Goldfeder Calls on Wireless Providers to Put Sandy Victims on the Line for Disaster Preparedness Initiative

n letter to major cell service providers, Goldfeder calls for southern Queens, Rockaway to be included in pre-hurricane season planning meetings planned under new Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework agreement

 

Assemblyman’s request comes as House Energy and Commerce Committee approves SANDy Act, communities in Queens prepare for June 1st start of Atlantic hurricane season

 

Rockaway Beach, Queens – In an effort to promote hurricane preparedness and improve families’ access to communications services during emergencies, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Rockaway Beach) is calling on the nation’s top wireless providers to include community leaders in southern Queens and Rockaway in planned outreach efforts ahead of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. The community stakeholders meetings are part of a recently-approved agreement among carriers that coincides with new legislation in Congress aimed at improving service roaming capabilities and industry best practices.

 

“Our families depend on their cell phones and other communications services to stay informed during emergencies, seek out the assistance they need, and find neighbors in need of help,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Sandy demonstrated that when cell coverage is down, communities suffer. These are lessons that we can share with the world and that’s why I urge the major carriers to include us in their discussions on how to better prepare for future disasters.”

 

This week, Assemblyman Goldfeder sent letters to five of the nation’s leading wireless providers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular – and the industry trade group CTIA calling for Superstorm Sandy-impacted communities in southern Queens and Rockaway to be included in “best practices” meetings planned ahead of the June 1st start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. In his letter, Goldfeder wrote that cell and internet coverage disruptions experienced during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 presented “challenges for families trying to contact loved ones, city programs and non-profits trying to determine who needed assistance, and residents who needed access to vital services.” The Assemblyman urged the companies to include input from the community as best practice plans are considered.

 

The meetings are part of framework agreement signed by the carriers and CTIA, and announced in an April 27th letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In addition to the community best practices meetings, the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework lays out the protocol for companies to enhance coordination and cooperation during major disasters. This includes providing reasonable cell service roaming, sharing of physical assets and infrastructure, and making up-to-date service and restoration status information more readily available to customers and relevant stakeholders.

 

News of the framework agreement comes as Congress considers federal legislation aimed at securing reliable and affordable cell phone roaming service during emergencies. The Securing Access to Networks in Disasters, or SANDy, Act (H.R. 3998) would require the FCC to develop roaming agreements between mobile service providers to allow for reasonable cell service roaming rates during mobile service outages lasting more than 24 hours. The bill would also amend the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to include all categories of communications service providers among essential service providers granted access to disaster sites to repair essential services.

 

This latest request by Assemblyman Goldfeder follows earlier efforts to improve communications infrastructure and foster interagency cooperation following Sandy. In 2014, Goldfeder called on the top telecommunications companies in the New York metropolitan area to upgrade cell towers and other service infrastructure. The Assemblyman also encouraged companies to meet to discuss recovery efforts from Sandy, leading to meetings with both AT&T and Verizon in Goldfeder’s district office.

 

More recently, Goldfeder convened various interagency task force meetings with NYC Emergency Management to better prepare for future storms. For Goldfeder, it’s important to consider storm preparation on multiple fronts in order to keep families safe going forward.

 

“Sandy affected so many aspects of our lives. In order to keep our families safe, we need to look at lessons learned across the board and engage as many agency partners as possible. This is the best way to ensure strong, resilient communities going forward,” concluded Goldfeder.

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Rockaway Beach, Queens – In an effort to promote hurricane preparedness and improve families’ access to communications services during emergencies, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Rockaway Beach) is calling on the nation’s top wireless providers to include community leaders in southern Queens and Rockaway in planned outreach efforts ahead of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

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