The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is to examine the challenges to the resiliency of US mobile networks during natural disasters in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski announced field hearings into the impact of the storm that hit the northeast US several weeks ago will be held early in 2013.

The hearings will address issues such as power and fuel dependences, emergency permitting, resource sharing protocols and 911 accessibility, and will include businesses, public safety officials, engineering and academic experts and consumers.

The findings will then be used to provide recommendations to strengthen wired and wireless networks to better cope with large-scale national emergencies.

 “This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the resilience of communications networks,” said Genachowski.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA customers were all affected as flooding, power outages and damage to cell towers saw services fail.

AT&T and T-Mobile USA opened up their networks to each other’s customers in the days following Sandy to provide users in the worst hit areas with mobile signal.

Immediately following the storm, the FCC suggested that 25 percent of cell sites in the affected area were out of operation.