US cellcos fighting a costly losing battle

I was intrigued to see that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the US is quietly imposing a new set of requirements on cellular carriers in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy.

During Katrina, it seems the emergency boys and girls were caught off guard when the cellular nets went the same way as the landline services, as, whilst they had network diversity, without any power, the cell sites went offline.

The FCC wants the cellcos to have at least 24 hours of reserve power at each of their 210,000 base stations across the US - something the cellcos claim will cost them around $15,000 per site.

They're also claiming - quite correctly IMHO - that, whilst a back-up facility for a major site is viable, a pico-cell site doesn't really need battery back-up, as it's only a fill-in service.

As you might expect, the US cellular carriers are jibbing about the cost of the back-up battery service and are battling things out with the FCC in the US courts.

I think they'll lose and that other regulators around the world, including Ofcom in the UK, will mandate similar levels of reserve power facilities on their cellular carriers.

THis could get interesting, especially when it comes to power-hungry 3G base stations...