Posts Categorised: Puerto Rico

The Flying COW drone will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Broadcasters (including myself) like to tout how we’re able to keep our systems up and running during natural disasters, especially in comparison to cellular systems. (Puerto Rico is only the latest example .)

The big carriers are doing their best to keep systems up and running though, even in the worst of conditions.

AT&T has designed an all-weather drone to help keep its wireless network up and running during and after natural disasters. The all-weather Flying COW drone — designed by AT&T with help from manufacturers and first responders — will be one of two types of drones that AT&T will offer for its Network Disaster Recovery system, reports . AT&T designed its “Extreme-Weather Drone” to be to fly through rain or snow and handle tropical wind gusts up to 50 mph, and it can handle extreme temperature conditions as well.

The Extreme-Weather Drone took its first flight recently in Bedminster, N.J. It was also flown by University of Washington engineering students in Redmond, Wash., where students tested LTE antennas they designed specifically for the drones, according to the same article. The system tethers the drone to the ground with a thin fiber cable that feeds power and signal to the airborne drone, which then sends the signal out over the air to customers.

Last year AT&T’s flying COWs provided data, voice, and text services to customers and recovery teams in Puerto Rico and carried dozens of gigabytes of data, and thousands of calls and texts.

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Think your generator isn’t important? Think again

As power outages and other major challenges continue to confront Puerto Rico more than seven months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, it’s hard to imagine any positive consequences that may have come from the storm. 

But Ryan Bell of the Columbia Journalism Review highlighted one bright spot in a recent article: The natural disaster may have inadvertently reinvigorated AM radio.

He points to Mayagüez-based station WKJB(AM), which remained on air during and after the hurricane — in part because the station had learned the hard way when Hurricane Georges blew through the island in 1998. The staff had installed a backup power generator and a reinforced antenna.

[Even if your station isn’t in the path of hurricane season, Marty Hadfield can teach you about emergency preparedness — his station survived Hurricane Katrina.]

The information the station and its mostly volunteer staff put on the air was crucial during the month-plus period that television station were off the air and digital publications were off line.

Read the full CJR story online here. It’s a good reminder about the importance of emergency preparedness as we head into another hurricane season.

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The FCC chair has proposed $954M to help fix comms networks there, but critics aren’t happy with his efforts

SAN JUAN — FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has answered a question that broadcasters likely had on their mind. Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”

On Tuesday, Pai had “proposed to direct $954 million toward restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands” in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane season. The initiatives are dubbed the “Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund” (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and “Connect USVI Fund Would Improve Connectivity for Residents “

The chairman’s trip to Puerto Rico and the proposal were not entirely well received. One particularly critical article came from the Register: “April Fool: FCC finally bothers with Puerto Rico as chairman visits .” Yikes.

On Thursday, Pai tweeted a photo of a San Juan sunrise with a seemingly innocuous caption detailing his itinerary — and got more than he bargained for.

Things got interesting when Juan Carlos Pedreira — a tech reporter for Univision in Miami who also has a J.D. — tweeted a question in reply:

Pai answered:

The internet, apparently, was not pleased by this response. A flurry of GIFs, sarcastic comments and other, more aggressive, replies followed.

This was not Pai’s first foray into the world of controversy. The chairman is active on social media, and Twitter has been a favorite platform for citizens to air their grievances over Pai’s position on Net Neutrality and other issues.

Pai leaves the island Friday and travels to the US Virgin Islands. 

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Ajit Pai will visit islands to review recovery efforts

WASHINGTON — In a few weeks, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will head south to review the status of communications restoration efforts after the 2017 hurricane season, the commission announced.

From March 7–10, Pai will visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with members of the commission’s Hurricane Recovery Task Force. During this follow up to his November trip, they will meet with meet with leaders and service providers, according to the announcement.

[Read more: “Pai Visits Puerto Rico “]

“The FCC remains committed to supporting recovery efforts and helping to restore, and in some cases rebuild, communications networks as quickly as possible,” Pai said in the press release announcing his trip. “I look forward to leading a team to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to get a firsthand assessment of the situation on the ground. It’s important to learn what has worked well and what could be done better — and to apply those lessons to future storms.”

The announcement also chronicled what the FCC has done to help support broadcasters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They have:

  • advanced nearly $77 million in universal service funding
  • accelerated the post-incentive auction transition
  • granted temporary waivers of Lifeline’s recertification rules
  • expedited approval of an experimental license for Alphabet’s Project Loon
  • approved targeted and flexible E-Rate support to help restore connectivity of schools and libraries
  • and granted more than 500 waivers and requests for Special Temporary Authority to help reestablish communications

[Read more: “FCC Approves Project Loon’s Expansion Over Puerto Rico “]

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