September 10, 2020 – Several wireless carries recently petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to rescind a state rule that requires carriers to equip cell towers with backup power. This 72-hour backup power rule keeps cell towers running even during natural disasters, when power grids may be shut off to prevent fires from spreading– and when consumers desperately need their phones to work. Today, 20 Members of Congress from the California Delegation issued a joint statement arguing for the importance of connectivity during wildfires.

According to the joint statement, “These safeguards were put in place to help Californians stay connected during wildfires and other emergencies. Challenging them is irresponsible and in doing so the carriers are turning their backs on Californians. At a time when nearly every part of our state has been ravaged by wildfires, we would hope that there is swift action to implement these lifesaving protections, not fight against them.”

As wildfires spread to other states, potentially including those lacking mandatory backup power rules, more Americans could experience crippling network outages while their lives are at risk.

View our latest blog post, “Another Massive Hurricane, Another Reason Why Congress Must Pass the RESILIENT Networks Act,” to learn how we can better prepare our networks for the next natural disaster. You may also read, “What America Can Do to Strengthen Its Communications Infrastructure,” to learn more about the importance of network resiliency.

Public Knowledge is a Washington D.C.- based public interest group working to defend consumer rights in the emerging digital culture. More information is available at