RealNews

Emergency telecom programs gave responders access

Priority services operated by the National Communications System gave government officials and emergency personnel access to both landline and wireless telecommunications during last week’s blackout that shut down parts of the Northeast. Although most of the telecommunications infrastructure remained in operation during the blackout, usage spikes overwhelmed resources, making access difficult for many calling to or from the affected areas Thursday evening and into Friday. That is the situation for which the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service was established for landline phones, and the Wireless Priority Service for cellular phones. GETS is a nationwide program. On the cellular side, T-Mobile USA Inc. of Bellevue, Wash., is the only company to provide priority wireless access. “Reports from T-Mobile indicate that Wireless Priority Service was operational and used across multiple switching centers in New York and Washington during the blackout,” GETS and WPS program director John Graves said. “Wherever T-Mobile had power to base stations, we had WPS capability.” Full Story

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