FCC seeks probe of post-quake 911 problems

Problems with emergency wireless phone calls to first responders in the aftermath of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the nation's capital have attracted the attention of the Federal Communications Commission, NextGov reports.

Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked FCC staff members to look into reports that wireless calls to 911 were hampered by congestion on cellular networks after the quake that took place Aug. 23.

Jamie Barnett, the FCC's public safety and homeland security bureau chief, expressed relief that there were no reports of serious injuries or fatalities from the quake. "Nevertheless," Barnett added, "these are the moments when mobile phone service is needed most — and disruption puts lives at risk."

After the quake, spokespeople for Verizon and Sprint Nextel told GCN that their cellular networks hadn’t been damaged but that people had trouble getting connections because of the high volume of calls. Telecommunications companies recommend texting or accessing e-mail in emergency situations, since that requires less bandwidth than making calls.


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