EDISON - A New Jersey congressman wants to make sure that New Jersey is able to stay connected during a major disaster, as the start of the 2016 hurricane season gets closer.
Rep. Frank Pallone says that his Superstorm Sandy-inspired bill is getting widespread support in Congress and he wants to make sure it passes.
The bill would strengthen New Jersey’s communications networks. During Superstorm Sandy, about 25 percent of the cellphone towers in the state went dead. This prevented many in the state from making important phone calls and getting through to emergency crews during the storm.
MORE: Sandy Coverage
The bill calls on wireless phone companies to work together to improve their networks’ resiliency. Along with the bill, all of the major competing wireless networks have reached a voluntary agreement to share information leading up to a major storm. The companies have also agreed that during the worst of an emergency they will work together to keep all working networks running and share them.
“The lessons that we learned in Sandy that may be specific to New Jersey is that we need to roam on one another’s networks,” says AT&T Mid-Atlantic Region President Mike Schweder.
Many of New Jersey’s emergency dispatchers say that they welcome the idea of a stronger communication network.
“Any time you can have access to the communications system, quicker, faster, more reliably, I think that would be a positive,” says Edison Police Sgt. Andrew Brzozowski.
Rep. Pallone’s bill passed in the House of Representatives last week. It has now been introduced to the Senate.