MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today wrote to AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey condemning AT&T’s failure to maintain its network in Louisiana when Hurricane Ida hit.
“I write to you today regarding AT&T’s failure to maintain network operations during Hurricane Ida, including the emergency first responder call systems that so many parishes and cities rely on that AT&T exclusively serves. As you know, on Sunday, August 29th, Hurricane Ida made landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm. When Hurricane Ida hit, AT&T’s network—including the First Responder Network (FirstNet)—failed. Countless Louisianans were left without the ability to complete calls or send texts,” wrote Kennedy.
“The failure of AT&T’s network impacted people from all across the state, with at least four parishes reporting 911 systems being down. When Louisianans tried to make calls to 911 the calls couldn’t be completed. When loved ones tried to contact family and friends they couldn’t. Residents even lacked the ability to send and receive life-saving updates. This is unacceptable, especially when contrasted with widespread reports of competitor networks faring better,” Kennedy continued.
“It is my understanding that AT&T is the service provider for all 911 call centers in Louisiana. Further, it is my understanding that AT&T was awarded a 25-year, $6.5 billion contract to build and maintain a nationwide network for public safety—FirstNet. . . . FirstNet promised to absolutely ensure communications services for first responders during the most serious and unprecedented disasters. Unfortunately, emergency calls didn’t make it to first responders and there is widespread acknowledgment from government officials and emergency responders that much of the call routing technology they rely on is antiquated and in need of replacement or upgrade,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy asked AT&T why its network suffered greater outages than its competitors, how much money AT&T invested in deploying and expanding FirstNet coverage in Louisiana over the past five years and what AT&T is doing to improve its network resiliency, among other questions.
“It will be weeks before a full assessment of Hurricane Ida’s damage will be available. However, what we do know is that when Louisiana needed AT&T most, AT&T failed,” Kennedy concluded.
Text of the letter is available here.