Hurricanes Irma and Maria bored through Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in September with a complete disposal of the territories’ power grid. When the sun followed the rain and winds, there was no power anywhere in sight.
There was a small debate about how the region could reboot the grid and proof it against powerful storms like Maria and make it more green and efficient in the process. It was decided that a fast recovery was absolutely necessary. A clean slate presented an opportunity that was passed up for expediency — to save lives.
When it comes to communication and wireless data, the challenges have been tougher. In rough terrain and a connected society, everyone needs reliable power to do anything, much less survive. That includes repairing cell sites and whatnot. Alphabet’s Project Loon has been floating portable sites above the nation to supplement AT&T and T-Mobile’s recovering ground-based bandwidth.
With respect to T-Mobile’s expanding network with new technologies and a new wave of spectrum in development, the Un-carrier is now trying to see if it can do something with the carte blanche coming out of the crisis. It filed with the FCC to speed up the build-out of its 600MHz licenses in the island territories. It wanted to “avoid wasteful duplicative construction,” reports Mobile World Live.
T-Mobile has pushed 600MHz plowing in rural areas and is hurrying TV broadcasters, which currently occupy the spectrum in much of the nation, into turning off transmitters. While there may be more devices coming along with support for this spectrum, the portfolio is looking quite barren right now. If the network wants to build out 600MHz faster, it will have to be careful not to leave behind its customers by going forward with just 600MHz and not Bands 2, 4 and 12.
Puerto Rico’s cellular grid is now at 71.6 percent of full capacity while only 62.8 percent of sites are on in the Virgin Islands — and as far as we know, we’re still dealing with the existing, active spectrum allotments that each network owns.