In an effort to ensure the reliability of emergency communications during natural and manmade disasters, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed rule changes that would facilitate the identification of network outages and speed service restoration.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in March 2013, the Commission has proposed the adoption of key recommendations for bolstering emergency communications services made by its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The proposed changes would establish emergency communications network reliability requirements, and modify certification and reporting rules to ensure compliance. The FCC would also implement compliance reviews and inspections to ensure that emergency communications service providers are meeting requirements and adhering to prescribed practices.
The Bureau’s recommendations were the result of an extensive investigation into emergency communications service failures that occurred following a major storm that hit portions of the U.S. in June 2012. During the so-called “derecho” storm, 77 emergency call centers operating in six states lost some or all communications capabilities, affecting more than 3.6 million people.