WASHINGTON (CN) - In the wake of recent superstorms that left millions without cell phone service, the Federal Communications Commission has proposed rules to stimulate innovation through competition to make wireless service more reliable during disasters.
The rules would require wireless carriers to report to the FCC, on a daily, county-by-county basis, the percentage of their network that remains operational, during major storms and other disasters. The FCC would then make the information public.
38 percent of American households have given up land lines in favor of cell phones, according to the FCC. So it has become more important to keep wireless service going during and after disasters, for emergency calls.
Some carriers are better than others at meeting the challenges of increased demand during disasters, according to the FCC. For example, some carriers' back-up power sources are more robust than others'.
The FCC expects transparency of information to encourage competition, leading to upgrades that would increase cell service reliability during disasters, according to the FCC's proposal.
The disclosure of information, the agency said, would enable consumers to "compare how well various mobile wireless networks are able to withstand and recover from disaster conditions. There is a precedent in the telecommunications sector and in other industry contexts for using informational disclosures of this sort to enhance consumer welfare and drive product and service improvements," according to the action.
The FCC also requests suggestions on alternative or complementary measures for improving wireless network reliability.
Comments are due by Jan. 17.
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