House Introduces 2 New Network Resiliency Bills
Friday, February 21, 2020 | Comments

Two new public-safety bills that address network resiliency during and after disasters were introduced in the House.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and Rep. Jerry McNerney introduced a bill to improve network resiliency in times of emergency.

“Reinforcing and Evaluating Service Integrity, Local Infrastructure, and Emergency Notification for Today’s Networks Act (H.R. 5926)” or the RESILIENT Networks Act, requires preplanned coordination among providers of advanced communications service to take effect during times of emergency, including roaming and mutual-aid arrangements. The bill aims to improve coordination between communications providers, 9-1-1 operators and public-safety entities. The legislation also includes mechanisms to ensure first responders are provided network outage data to help guide disaster response.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Pallone authored the SANDy Act, signed into law in 2018 as part of RAY BAUM’S Act, to help ensure the resiliency of communications networks during emergencies. The RESILIENT Networks Act builds on the SANDy Act, a statement said.

“Ensuring the resiliency and reliability of communications networks is critical to keeping Americans safe during emergencies,” Pallone and McNerney said. “This is particularly important with the growing threat of disasters intensified by climate change. Resilient communications networks can mean the difference between life and death during and after a storm or wildfire. Our bill requires the creation of stronger, enforceable protections for consumers. This will ensure that Americans have access to vital and lifesaving communications service before, during and after major disasters. We look forward to moving this bill through the committee process soon.”

The bill mandates a study on the feasibility of expanding the one-call notification system, used to identify the location of electric and gas transmission lines, to cover communications infrastructure components. It also instructs federal agencies to issue best practices for coordination between communications service providers and utilities during times of emergency and planned power shutoffs. Finally, the bill requires a report on whether 5G networks benefit or challenge resiliency and an audit of the FCC’s response to the 2017 hurricane season in Puerto Rico.

A summary of the pending legislation is here.

A second bill, introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui, directs the FCC to issue reports after activation of the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and to make improvements to network outage reporting.

The report would be due no later than six weeks after the deactivation of the DIRS and provide information on the number and duration of 9-1-1 outages and initial recovery efforts related to communications networks, among other information.

No later than four months after the deactivation of DIRS, the FCC would be required to hold at least one public field hearing in communities affected by the event and provide a final report no later than eight months after the deactivation of DIRS.

The text of the bill is here.

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Comments
On 3/8/20, Larry Schaefer said:
Finally a serious attempt to enforce at least part of the definition of public safety grade (PSG). FirstNet made promises from the beginning that the network would be public safety grade. In theory they were happy to comply but when it actually came to holding the commercial communications companies to the PSG requirements in the definition, it was a whole different thing. We in the public safety communications operations side of the house understood that it was going to require a significant cost investment by the telecom industry. Unfortunately it's not an investment they can show a return on investment (ROI), which prevents them from doing it. We'll have to wait for the next disaster before we can once again add another justification for the investment. The question is will they be held fully accountable?


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