Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked commission staff to examine reports that some wireless calls to 9-1-1 centers could not get through because of congestion on cellphone networks after Tuesday's unusual East Coast earthquake.
"We are very concerned by incidents where emergency wireless calls to 9-1-1 after yesterday's earthquake were hampered by network congestion," FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett said in a statement. "Thankfully, there have been no reports thus far about serious injuries or lives lost. Nevertheless, these are the moments when mobile phone service is needed most - and disruption puts lives at risk."
Barnett said Tuesday's events also underscored the need for continued progress on next-generation 9-1-1 services that would allow users to send text messages, photos and video to 9-1-1 centers.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said separately Wednesday the FCC has deployed two Roll Call Spectrum Scanning teams to the FEMA regional offices in Atlanta and Boston to see which critical communications systems might have been affected by Hurricane Irene, which potentially could hit the east coast later this week.