FCC: 16 Out of 21 Cell Sites Now Working in Maui

Carriers continue to make progress in cell tower site restoration in Maui, HI. The most impacted areas of the wildfires are in Kapalua, Napili-Honokowai, Kaanapali, Lahaina, Launiupoko, and Olowalu on the western portion of the island.

Out of 21 total sites, five remained offline as of 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday. That compares to Tuesday when half were operating, and to last week when no sites were working, Inside Towers reported.  

Inside Towers reported the carriers deployed mobile assets to Maui to support wireless services while fixed cell sites are being restored. AT&T says its network teams continue to work around the clock to restore service. The carrier brought in a Cell on Wheels in the center of Lahaina that has been providing wireless service for customers since Wednesday evening. 

T-Mobile’s Emergency Management Team has worked to restore every site that it has access to or that wasn’t damaged, including all sites north of Lahaina on Maui’s west coast from Kaanapali to Kapalua. Fully fueled backup generators are now in place to supplement commercial power as needed. Mid-week, T-Mobile too, deployed a COW to provide coverage at the Lahaina Gateway Center, where sites are either restricted due to safety or damaged beyond repair.

The carrier’s sites at Napili-Honokowai and Kapalua are fully restored. T-Mobile says it’s giving first responders activated phones and priority wireless service. 

Verizon says it’s restored network coverage in West Maui, bringing service to all areas that were covered before the recent wildfires. The company used satellite backhaul solutions to transport voice and data traffic to and from its cell sites that weren’t damaged by the fires. A Cell on Light Truck remains in place to provide coverage in the town of Lahaina. While Verizon engineers work to permanently restore the network, there may be inconsistent and partial restoration of network performance.

Cable and wireline companies reported 16,700 subscribers out of service in the disaster area; this may include the loss of telephone, television, and/or internet services. That compares to 19,093 on Saturday, August 12, according to the FCC’s first DIRS report for the Maui disaster.

Five AMs are now reported to be on-air: KNUI, KCIK, KAOI, KUAU, KMVI. No FMs or TV stations were reported as being off-air.

The FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau granted a verbal Special Temporary Authority on August 16 for Maui County to operate on frequencies 11,345.0 MHz (Hyatt Regency Maui) and 10,855.0 MHz (Waiakeakua) in support of emergency services for wildfires.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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