FCC, CISA Leaders Ask Governors to Prioritize Communications During Pandemic
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs sent a letter to the nation’s governors encouraging them to provide necessary access and resources to the communications workers helping to keep Americans connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Communications networks are a lifeline during this challenging time, enabling the public to call 9-1-1 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 today to ensure that communications networks and services remain available to the public and first responders.”

The letter highlights recent guidance from CISA related to the essential critical infrastructure workforce and 9-1-1 centers during the pandemic. The leaders also asked that certain communications industry entities and personnel be declared essential to the pandemic response and that states consider prioritizing the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to communications personnel when available.

The letter underscores the role of various communications industry personnel in supporting consumers’ remote emergency communications needs and encourages industry and government to work together to prioritize and complete communications infrastructure and next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) projects. Pai and Krebs called on 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.

“As our nation continues to respond to COVID-19, our ability to maintain reliable and consistent communications is vital,” Krebs said. “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. We also recognize the critical role state and local officials play in managing and executing COVID-19 response activities and will continue to help them identify essential services to safeguard the continuity of functions needed to protect their communities. We thank all of our essential critical infrastructure workers who have continued doing their jobs throughout the response.”

The letter is here.

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