The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a review into operators’ network recovery practices in the wake of what Chairman Ajit Pai deemed an unacceptable response to Hurricane Michael.

In letters to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Verizon and others, the FCC asked operators to report on how they’ve implemented a voluntary framework for disaster response developed by the commission in 2016. The protocol, known as the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework, calls for operators to extend mutual aid and roaming agreements in case of emergency, and communicate with customers about recovery efforts.

Specifically, the FCC requested information on how operators implemented roaming agreements and any technical challenges faced; accounts of instances where roaming or mutual aid were denied; and explanations for situations in which the framework was not applied.

Pai said in a statement the examination of existing procedures is meant to ensure “all wireless carriers are meeting communities’ needs and doing everything they can to promptly restore service after a natural disaster”.

The scrutiny comes after hurricane seasons in 2017 and 2018 tested the limits of US operator networks. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria wiped out 95 per cent of cell sites in Puerto Rico. Last month, Hurricane Michael ripped through the southern US, knocking out more than 60 per cent of cell sites in parts of the state of Florida.

Commissioner Brendan Carr, who examined the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, called the review “the right step” to take, adding “there are lessons to be learned” to better prepare for future events.