Reps. Eshoo, McNerney and Matsui Request FCC Briefing on Communications Impacts of Wildfires and Rolling Blackouts

August 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), and Doris Matsui (CA-06) sent a letter today to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai requesting a briefing about the communications-related impacts of the wildfires and rolling blackouts in California. The letter also urges the agency to take all possible steps to monitor the situation and ensure that Californians stay connected during this time.

“We are concerned about how the wildfires and rolling blackouts may be impacting the ability of our constituents and all Californians to stay connected in these emergencies, especially given that these events are taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. …. Communications outages mean that people are unable to call 9-1-1, let their loved ones know that they are safe, or receive lifesaving alerts, which may include information about alternative wildfire evacuation routes or other information specific to evacuations during the pandemic,” the Members wrote.

"We strongly urge and expect your agency, which is charged with overseeing our nation’s communications networks to promote public safety, to be taking all possible steps to monitor the situation and help ensure that Californians stay connected during this time,” the Members continued.

The Members requested that the FCC Chairman provide them with a briefing as soon as possible regarding the following:

  • Wildfire and rolling blackout-related communications outages in California that have been reported to your agency since August 14, 2020;
  • Steps your agency is taking to monitor the impact of the wildfires and rolling blackouts on communications networks;
  • Steps your agency is taking to reach out to and work with the state and communications providers;
  • Cases in which Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) were used to issue warnings or other information related to the wildfires in California;
  • To what extent your agency is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local officials, and communications providers to ensure that the WEA system is used appropriately to protect the public during these wildfires; and
  • Any other actions your agency is taking related to the wildfires and rolling backouts in California.

To read the full letter, click HERE.

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