During her November 13 appearance at the Silicon Flatirons Center in Boulder, Colo., Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the federal government needs to reconsider its backup power system for wireless communications and broadcast operations to better prepare for natural disasters, with an emphasis on network reliability.

In the Northeastern United States, Hurricane Sandy caused massive damage to homes, public transportation, and cell tower sites. Residents were left without communication and therefore did not know where they could go to get help.

“It is time for an honest conversation about network reliability in the wireless and digital age,” she said.

Rosenworcel touched on plans to analyze how the government allocates resources in times of natural disasters. Improvements in the communications infrastructure mitigate the effects of power outages when they occur. These improvements would require a “comprehensive discussion that includes questions about access to fuel, priority under the Stafford Act, backup communications deployments, maintaining backhaul, and harmonization with state and local authorities,” she said.

Rosenworcel also addressed other issues the industry is facing in her remarks, presented as “The Next Ten Years of Spectrum Policy.” For example, she described how incentive auctions would open up opportunities for wireless access.

“In short, to have converts to our crusade for more wireless opportunity, simplicity must be our incentive auction gospel,” she said.

Rosenworcel also spoke about the federal spectrum and its commercial access, which requires several strategies.

“We must work with our government partners so they can realize the value of their spectrum and the value of using it efficiently—instead of only seeing loss from its reallocation,” she said.

Furthermore, Rosenworcel suggested “off-the-rack-model rules” for state and local governments to use in locating wireless facilities. This model would be designed to expedite distribution while respecting state and local authority and making it simpler for local economies to grow.