Don’t expect FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to be trailed by paparazzi snapping photos of him lounging poolside at the La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort in San Juan.
Pai will be taking a four-day early March sojourn from the “chilly” Washington weather (it is 77 degrees in Gaithersburg, Md. today, with a high of 49 forecast for Thursday) and is flying to the Caribbean on a trip that’s strictly business.
The Chairman’s visit to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will focus on the status of communications restoration efforts after the 2017 hurricane season.
As of Friday, between 21% and 40% of cell phone towers in eastern Puerto Rico remain dark. These areas include Fajardo and the heavily battered El Conquistador resort, which remains closed due to damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
Pai’s trip is scheduled for March 7-10 and he’ll meet with local leaders and communications service providers to review how restoration efforts continue, in particular in Vieques and rural areas away from metropolitan San Juan.
Pai will be accompanied by members of the Commission’s Hurricane Recovery Task Force.
This Spring Break from D.C. formally serves as a follow-up to Pai’s trip to Puerto
Rico in November 2017, in the weeks following Hurricane Maria.
The trip is part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to learn from the highly destructive 2017 hurricane season and apply those lessons to future disasters while continuing to support the ongoing recovery.
“The FCC remains committed to supporting recovery efforts and helping to restore, and in some cases rebuild, communications networks as quickly as possible,” said Pai. “I
look forward to leading a team to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to get a firsthand assessment of the situation on the ground. It’s important to learn what has worked well and what could be done better—and to apply those lessons to future storms.”
The FCC, in response to Maria-related damage to the PREPA power grid and broadcast media broadcast antenna and tower structures, advanced the territories nearly $77
million in universal service funding to help recovery, and accelerated the post-incentive auction transition to support Puerto Rico and broadcasters in St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
As of Feb. 16 eight FM radio stations in Puerto Rico “are suspected to be out of service,” while 17 FM stations are confirmed out of service by the Puerto Rican Broadcast Association.
Three Puerto Rico FM stations have STA to be off the air; 28 FM radio stations have an unconfirmed status.