The FCC proposed to modernize and improve its rules for programs that help first responders and other emergency personnel communicate during disasters. The proposed updates would help ensure that these programs meet the needs of emergency personnel now and in the future, as technology advances.
The Department of Homeland Security manages a suite of three priority services programs that help national security and emergency preparedness personnel communicate during emergencies. The Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) System requires providers to prioritize the provisioning and restoration of wired communications facilities. The Wireless Priority Service (WPS) involves providers prioritizing voice calls on wireless networks, Third, the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service concerns providers prioritizing voice calls on landline networks.
While the Department of Homeland Security manages these programs through contracts with participating communications providers, the Commission also has a long-standing regulatory role with respect to TSP and WPS. The Commission’s rules for these programs, however, were adopted when communications networks were primarily based on legacy technology and have not been updated in at least two decades.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted last week, the Commission proposed to modernize its priority services rules to cover priority treatment of voice, data, and video services for emergency personnel. The agency also proposed to streamline these rules by removing outdated requirements that may impede the use of Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies. The action also responds to petitions for rulemaking filed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, requesting the FCC to update its priority services rules.