On November 21, 2014, the FCC released a Policy Statement & Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Policy Statement-NPRM”) in PS Docket Nos. 14-193 and. 13-75. The Policy Statement-NPRM is intended to address so-called “sunny day outages” to the emergency access system that occur as a result of software and database problems, rather than from storms or disasters.
The Commission notes that the transition from TDM-based networks to IP-based ones not only presents opportunities for better emergency access services, but also to more vulnerability as the process of “routing and completing a 911 call now often involves multiple companies, sometimes geographically remote from where the call is placed. Outsourcing and consolidation of critical 911 network infrastructure means that a single 911 outage can affect more people in more places than before, and can also complicate restoration efforts.”
Accordingly, the FCC affirmed the “core principles that have guided and will continue to guide the FCC’s approach to 911 oversight – particularly its policy of working with state and local partners to ensure reliable 911 service.” The Commission also proposed new rules in four major areas to govern the provision of 911 service. Comment is sought on the following issue areas:
- Requiring 911 providers to make public notification of major changes to their 911 service, so that 911 call centers and other stakeholders are aware of potential impacts, and to seek approval if they intend to discontinue critical 911 services;
- Requiring entities seeking to offer new 911 capabilities and services to certify that they have the technical and operational capability to do so reliably;
- Clarifying roles to promote situational awareness, information sharing, and coordination among multiple service providers during 911 outages; and
- Updating the FCC’s 911 reliability certification requirements to account for new technologies and network architectures.
The Policy Statement-NPRM was adopted on a 3-2, with Commissioners Pai and O’Reilly dissenting. Public comments are due 45 days after publication of the Policy Statement-NPRM in the Federal Register and reply comments due no later than 75 days after publication.
If you have questions about this new rulemaking proceeding, 911 emergency service or are interested in filing comments in response to the Policy Statement-NPRM, please contact Robert Jackson, email@example.com, 703-714-1316.