In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC seeks comment on approaches to ensure the reliability and resiliency of the communications infrastructure necessary to ensure continued availability of the Nation’s 9-1-1 system, particularly during times of major disaster.
The FCC takes this action in response to the findings and recommendations presented in the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s January 10, 2013, report titled Impact of the June 2012 Derecho on Communications Networks and Services: Report and Recommendations. In that report, following an extensive inquiry and review of comments, the Bureau found that the June 2012 derecho affecting the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic United States severely disrupted 9-1-1-related communications and that these disruptions were due in large part to avoidable planning and systems failures within 9-1-1 service providers’ networks. The Bureau concluded that these failures could, and would, have been avoided if providers had followed industry best practices and other sound engineering principles.
Unlike a hurricane or superstorm predicted well in advance, the derecho arrived with very little notice, testing the preparedness and resiliency of 9-1-1 communications in the face of a sudden emergency. This test revealed serious vulnerabilities that cannot be overlooked. Accordingly, the Bureau recommended that the Commission consider action in the following areas: (1) 9-1-1 circuit auditing; (2) 9-1-1 service provider central office backup power; (3) physical diversity of monitor and control links; and (4) improved outage notification to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). This Notice seeks comment on approaches to implement these recommendations.