Mobile vs. landline in disaster recovery

An interesting squabble has come to light amid an FCC request for comment on a panel's recommendations after reviewing Hurricane Katrina's impact on communications networks. The wireless operator industry is arguing that carriers should receive top priority when it comes to restoring power because cell phones have become a lifeline for many in the wake of natural disasters and emergencies.

Power and landline telephone companies, the ones who have to restore power to cell sites, are saying no way. After all, landline companies are already suffering at the hands of mobile operators who are stealing more traffic from them. In an FCC filing, AT&T said it's unclear why wireless carriers should get priority over "tens of millions of other business and residential subscribers." Verizon Communications says it opposes mandates that would "limit flexibility" of its response. While it does look like mobile-phone companies are trying to "muscle their way to the head of the line" of power restoration ahead of landline companies, as AT&T puts it, operators do have a point. Time after time we've seen people trying to rely on the mobile phones amid an emergency. One year after Hurricane Katrina hit, parts of New Orleans still don't have landline service! Unfortunately, business interests and politics will play a starring role in the outcome of this one.

For more about this battle between carriers and landline companies:
- take a look at this article from USA Today