public safety answering points

Recent natural disasters like Hurricane Ida have highlighted the importance to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) of stable communications networks. Such disasters can cause disruptions and delays to the transmission of 911 calls, first responder communications, Emergency Alert Systems (“EAS”), and other important communications during emergencies. The FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on proposed rules to improve the resilience and reliability of communications networks during emergencies at its September Open Meeting. The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on November 4, 2021 and therefore comments are due on December 6, 2021, and reply comments are due on January 4, 2022.

Continue Reading Early December Deadline for Comments on FCC’s Resilient Networks NPRM

The FCC released a full agenda for its next Commission Open Meeting, scheduled for September 30, 2021. The agency will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to improve the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework (“Framework”) and outage reporting. The FCC will next address an Order on Reconsideration to vacate a 2020 order that permits states to lease spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band (designated for public safety use) to third parties for non-public-safety use and a Further NPRM (“FNPRM”) to adopt a nationwide framework for the 4.9 MHz band that would allow for public safety and non-public safety uses. The FCC will also consider adopting a Public Notice that would describe the process for the Office of Engineering and Technology (“OET”) to approve automated frequency coordination (“AFC”) systems, which must be used when performing certain unlicensed operations in the 6 GHz band. Rounding out spectrum issues, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) focused on whether there is adequate spectrum to support the Internet of Things (“IoT”). The FCC will then shift its attention to two FNPRMs regarding robocalls. One FNPRM would propose that voice service providers block autodialed calls to numbers on the Public Safety Answering Points (“PSAP”) Do-Not-Call registry and seek alternative ways to protect PSAPs from robocalls and security threats. The other robocall-related FNPRM would propose that gateway providers take action to prevent robocalls that originate outside of the U.S. on U.S. numbers. Next, the FCC will address another NPRM to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive support under the E-rate program. The FCC will close its meeting by considering a Second Report and Order that would adopt standard questions to be answered by applicants with reportable foreign ownership that seek the Commission’s approval to obtain or modify certain licenses or to complete transactions involving those licenses.

You will find more information about the items on the September meeting agenda after the break:

Continue Reading The FCC’s Packed September Meeting Agenda Includes Focus on IoT Spectrum and Robocall Prevention

The June 29 "Derecho" storm brought significant damage and power outages to the Mid-Atlantic region.  It also brought a number of high-profile 911 outages, which have attracted the FCC’s attention.  This week, the Public Safety Bureau launched a broad investigation into the Derecho events.

In the wake of the Derecho, news media reported outages in the 911 system in several counties in Northern Virginia and an West Virginia.  The Public Safety Bureau quickly announced that it would begin meeting with carrier representatives, public officials, and others to investigate the outages.  (This was similar to the Public Safety Bureau’s reaction to Verizon 911 outages in 2011.)  Now, the Bureau has expanded its inquiry with an 8-page Public Notice seeking comment on the "reliability, resiliency and availability of communications networks in times of emergency."  The Public Notice was accompanied by a last-minute addition to the agenda of yesterday’s FCC’s Open Meeting to discuss the inquiry.  Four of the Commissioners released statements praising the Bureau’s inquiry.

The Public Notice suggests that the FCC is approaching the Derecho from a rulemaking perspective, rather than an enforcement perspective.  That’s great news for Verizon and Frontier Communications, of course, as the two local telephone companies providing services in the areas hit by the outages.  (Again, this is similar to how the Bureau approached the 2011 Verizon outage.  The Maryland PSC investigation of the same outage, by the way, has stalled.  No orders have been entered since the October 2011 staff recommendation that we discussed.) 

Continue Reading Derecho Storm Leads to FCC 911 Inquiry

 As required by a recent act of Congress, the FCC opened a proceeding to create a Do-Not-Call registry to allow public safety answering points ("PSAPs") to register telephone numbers associated with the provision of their emergency telephone services.  Once the registry is established, telemarketers would be prohibited from using automatic telephone dialing systems to place