NHMC Urges the FCC to Address Ongoing Telecom Needs in Puerto Rico

On January 9, 2019, Daiquiri Ryan, Policy Counsel for the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), joined the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights Media/Telecom Taskforce in a meeting with Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Geoffrey Starks. NHMC emphasized the importance of restoring telecommunications in Puerto Rico. In particular, Ms. Ryan reiterated that the Commission’s 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Report did not include a dedicated study analyzing the cause of Hurricane Maria’s unprecedented devastation on telecommunications networks in Puerto Rico. In fact, it only included one paragraph about the storm’s effect on wireline services. Further, according to BroadbandNow, only 0.7 percent of Puerto Ricans currently have access to fiber-optic service compared to 25 percent of their fellow mainland Americans. Daiquiri also emphasized Puerto Rico’s reliance on wireline copper networks which, since deregulating it’s copper retirement rules, the Commission voluntarily relinquished any meaningful enforcement authority. This is particularly consequential for Puerto Ricans who, like other communities of color, over index as smartphone dependent or smartphone-only users. Finally, NHMC highlighted the continued importance of the Lifeline program for Puerto Ricans still recovering from the devastation from Hurricane Maria. Puerto continues to have the largest population of Lifeline subscribers in the United States. Read NHMC’s ex parte letter here. ]]>