FCC Updates Rules for DHS Priority Services
Friday, July 17, 2020 | Comments

The FCC proposed modernizing and improving 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 as technology advances.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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, which requires service providers to prioritize the provisioning and restoration of wired communications facilities; Wireless Priority Service (WPS), a voluntary program that involves service providers prioritizing voice calls on wireless networks; and the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), a voluntary program that involves service providers prioritizing voice calls on landline networks.

While DHS 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 FCC’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, the commission proposed modernizing its priority services rules to cover priority treatment of voice, data and video services for emergency personnel. The FCC also proposed streamlining these rules by removing outdated requirements that may impede the use of IP-based technologies. In addition, the commission proposed amending the rules to reflect current administrative responsibilities for the priority services programs while eliminating burdensome and unnecessary administrative requirements.

The action responds to petitions for rulemaking filed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on behalf of DHS, requesting that the commission update its priority services rules.

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