Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai slammed the progress made by US operators to restore services in regions hardest hit by Hurricane Michael as completely unacceptable.

In a statement, the FCC chief demanded providers waive monthly contract charges for those impacted and announced the matter had been passed on to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for further investigation.

“Even though efforts to restore communications services have been going well in most of the areas affected by Hurricane Michael, the slow progress in restoring wireless service in areas close to where the hurricane made landfall is completely unacceptable,” Pai said.

“While the FCC has been in regular contact with companies serving the affected areas, I’m concerned that their actions on the ground aren’t matching the urgency that we have conveyed during those conversations.”

The hurricane hit a number of counties in the south west of the US on 10 October with regions in Florida and Georgia the hardest hit.

According to yesterday’s (16 October) FCC update, the majority of cell cites in Georgia knocked out of service are now operational, but in parts of Florida the percentage of sites still unusable was “much more significant”.

One coastal area reported more than 60 per cent of sites were still unusable, while a number of other regions had more than 20 per cent out of service.

In a statement dating 15 October, AT&T said its network had performed well during the disaster, and the company was supporting portable cell sites to aid subscribers and public safety organisations working in the area.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg in a Tweet noted its crews were “working day and night in dangerous conditions to repair fibre cuts” in a bid to restore services. The company has also offered three months of free service to customers in specific areas.

T-Mobile US said it was also working on restoring service and has waived some charges and offering a month of free service to qualifying customers.

Sprint has waived charges from 10 October to October 18 and is also still attempting to restore a full service.