Senate OKs bill to open cellphone networks amid natural disasters


The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that would require cellphones to work on other carriers’ networks during natural disasters.

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act, pushed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, which aims to shore up phone networks that often break down during emergencies from Superstorm Sandy in New York to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.

The bill would also establish a system for 911 calls to be transmitted over Wi-Fi.

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“The Senate rightly answered the call by putting the SANDy Act on speed dial,” Schumer said. “Dependable and redundant cellphone service is a necessity for emergency workers and a lifeline for residents left without power.”

Schumer seeks open cellphone networks for disasters like Irma

The legislation still has to pass the House. It passed the House in a previous session, but had not passed the Senate until this week.

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