FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs urged the nation’s governors to declare telecom workers as essential and provide necessary access and resources to those workers to help keep Americans connected during the pandemic.
“Communications networks are a lifeline during this challenging time, enabling the public to call 911 and participate in telehealth, distance learning, and telework,” said Pai. “To continue meeting these needs during the pandemic, workers in the communications industry must have the necessary access and resources. We urge state leaders, who are playing a critical role in protecting their communities, to consider the recommendations we are making to ensure that communications networks and services remain available to the public and first responders.”
Krebs thanked essential critical infrastructure workers who have continued doing their jobs throughout the response. “We commend industry on making the investments to ensure the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure was ready for this moment and CISA is committed to ensuring the sector has the support and resources needed to continue operating.”
Pai said during the recent WIA Connect (X): All Access event he would continue to make the point that infrastructure workers are essential and that they need personal protective gear. In a letter, Pai and Krebs asked governors to consider public safety communications infrastructure essential, as well as internet access service providers, wired and wireless carriers, network providers and equipment vendors. So too are satellite operators and radio, TV, and cable operators, they said.
Pai and Krebs urged governors to particularly recognize “companies and individuals involved in the construction of new communications facilities and deployment of new and existing technology to address unprecedented levels of customer usage.” They asked states to facilitate the maintenance, repair, and provisioning of communications infrastructure and services by providing online access to relevant government functions, such as the permitting process, where not already available electronically.
WIA has been involved in a group that includes industry and government representatives to ensure states and localities keep the wireless infrastructure permitting process moving during the pandemic. While some locations have moved those processes online, others have not, which has stalled some projects, WIA told the agency.
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