Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:01 PM ET
The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it will hold hearings at the start of 2013 to learn whether the nation's wireless networks could have, or should have, performed better in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
At the height of the devastating storm, about 25 percent of cell towers were knocked out in states affected by Sandy.
Wireless carriers worked diligently to get service restored to mobile customers, but were hampered by water damage, physical damage to cell towers and power loss.
Because of the massive damage caused by Sandy, it took more than a week for service to be up and running close to 100 percent.
"This unprecedented storm has revealed new challenges that will require a national dialogue around ideas and actions to ensure the resilience of communications," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said Wednesday in a statement.
Among the FCC's questions for the hearings, which will be held first in New York:
Representatives from AT&T and Sprint declined comment on the FCC action. NBC News also contacted Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, and will update this post if we hear back.
CTIA is the trade group that represents wireless carriers. In a statement to NBC News, Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA vice president, regulatory affairs, said the group looks "forward to discussing the wireless industry’s proven commitment and dedication to providing critically important communications during times of natural disasters, particularly in light of a storm of such epic proportion as super storm Sandy."
The hearings also will focus on communications by state and local officials and emergency personnel, the FCC said.