A constituent of Sen. Mary Landrieu wrote her a letter countering a CTIA claim that wireless was a reliable form of communication when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. According to those who were there, FM radio was the only reliable communications outlet still working.
Guaranty Broadcasting’s Gordy Rush was the correspondent, a radio manager who had close ties to the New Orleans community, although he is located upstate in Baton Rouge.
He said that for at least a week cellular service was “non-existent inside of LaPlace on Interstate 10,” and that around New Orleans it was scarce for almost a month.
Katrina hero General Russell Honore’, in a how-to-survive book, wrote a description of the situation in the aftermath: “The absence of telephone communications and the impact of that was a major issue in New Orleans…there was no physical way of communicating in the first few days after the storm. They relied on cell phones before the storm but after it hit there was no cell phone capacity anywhere in this part of Louisiana. In addition, members of Landreneau’s staff and mine crowded into the trailer along with Cost Guardsmen handling the FM radios and coordinating helicopter search-and-rescue missions throughout the city. Those radios were the only communications system working in New Orleans at that time except for satellite telephones, because the storm had knocked out virtually all cell phone towers and downed electrical and telephone lines in much of southern Louisiana.”
Rush noted that his WDGL-FM was a primary source of information when Hurricane Gustav hit Baton Rouge, while once again cell phones were out of commission. The station was used to carry coverage from WAFB-TV, which was unable to broadcast normally due to outages.
Having a radio station app is useless when cell service is down, said Rush, which is why it is so important to have the FM chip in the phone so that a radio signal can be accessed off the air.
Rush asked Landrieu to use her influence to get CTIA and CEA to “do the right thing” and activate chips without being forced to.
RBR-TVBR observation: What ever happened to common sense? If it’s true that FM chips are already included in most mobile devices; and that their one-to-many broadcast model allows multitudes of people to receive information when cell service is disabled by destruction or simple congestion; and that many people may quickly be unable to afford internet audio because of restrictive data caps, then why don’t we just let the chips fall where they may in the form of simply turning them on?