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Hey FCC: Hurricane Victims Shouldn't Run Out of Cell Minutes

The case for making phone companies provide free service after disasters.
A man in Puerto Rico tries to get cell phone service from a mobile phone antenna.
A man in Puerto Rico tries to get cell phone service from a mobile phone antenna. Alvin Baez/Reuters

The lines at Plaza del Sol, a mall just outside San Juan in Puerto Rico, must have stretched around the building. For hours on end, crowds of people gathered around a minor technological miracle: two working cell phones, and a power outlet to keep them charged.

The phones were borrowed from some unnamed Good Samaritans, and the calls were short—one minute, two minutes, just to check in with loved ones all over the world—but they added up to hundreds and hundreds of minutes of continuous usage.