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AT&T urges FCC to set telecom mandates

It looks like industry is starting to understand what's required in creating a disaster-proof telecommunications system. And it may be industry that leads and the government that follows. Hossein Eslambolchi, AT&T Corp.'s CIO, called on the FCC to require every communications provider to adopt crisis management plans, Computerworld reports.

It looks like industry is starting to understand what's required in creating a disaster-proof telecommunications system. And it may be industry that leads and the government that follows. Hossein Eslambolchi, AT&T Corp.'s CIO, called on the FCC to require every communications provider to adopt crisis management plans, Computerworld reports.

"Like the way the U.S. responded to the Y2k problem, there needs to be mandate by the FCC for crisis management," Eslambolchi said. "It wasn't clear to me whether a lot of crisis management [by private carriers] was done here [with Katrina]. We cannot afford to have another of these disasters."

 

The Computerworld article also quotese Scott Midkiff, a professor at Virginia Tech, who noted it was military communications technology that was able to get first responders talking to each other.

While satellite phones and Inmarsat satellite dishes provided some relief to hard-hit communications networks in the Gulf Coast during the past two weeks, many of the military units that arrived in the Gulf coast region last week relied on higher bandwidth IP satellite connections. Herndon, Va.-based Segovia Inc. provided IP satellite connectivity, rolling out about 35 units.

It seems we've taken the same attitude towards telecommunications that we've taken towards physical infrastructure: Disaster-proofing is expensive and usually unnecessary so let's just cut that corner. At the very least, we ought to make sure our emergency response providers have access to the same reliability that the military does.

Bill Hummel of Verizon tells businesses to assume they will lose all local communications in a disaster.

What that assumption implies is that alternate network pathways and automatic switching of critical data must be provided for ahead of time, he said. "People should learn the lessons of Katrina, because we could get something worse," Hummel said.

 

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