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CPUC Issues Staff Report on Major Communication Outages During January-February 2017 Storms

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In our ongoing efforts to guarantee safe, reliable service at reasonable rates, today we released a staff report titled, Analysis of Major Communication Outages in California During the 2017 January-February Storms.  The report examines the causes of major customer outages of the communications networks during the severe storms, a season when California experienced the most rainfall in recorded history.

The staff report, issued by our Communications Division, analyzes carrier reporting data during the 2017 storms and shows that almost 1 million customers could not call 9-1-1, more than 790,000 experienced loss of communication service, and more than 52,000 businesses experienced service interruptions.  Network equipment failures (59 percent of reported outages) and loss of power (41 percent) caused wireline service outages.  Sources of wireless service outages included loss of commercial power (39 percent), hardware issues (29 percent), and cable issues (23 percent).

The report concludes that better availability of backup power for wireless providers and improved reliability of cable facilities for wireline providers could have prevented many of the reported outages.  Final recommendations intend to strengthen the communications network and to focus on working with service providers on their performance, facilities reinvestment plans, and identifying vulnerable locations, among others.

Findings and recommendations in the report will inform the CPUC on the quality and reliability of the state's existing infrastructure during the 2017 storms in order to spotlight ways to improve critical interconnected communications and overall public safety, particularly essential when disasters strike.

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