FCC Updates Priority Services Rules
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | Comments

The FCC approved a report and order (R&O) aimed at improving priority services for emergency responders.

In the R&O, the FCC modernized and streamlined its rules for programs that help first responders and other emergency personnel communicate during disasters. The updated rules will help ensure that these programs meet the needs of emergency personnel now and in the future, 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 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) manages and approves users for these programs, 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 more than two decades.

In the R&O, the commission updated its priority services rules to reflect today’s marketplace and governance framework and to authorize explicitly the prioritization of next-generation technology.

Specifically, the commission:
• Clarified service providers’ authorization to prioritize data, video and IP-based voice services for eligible users on a voluntary basis;
• Removed outdated requirements that may cause confusion or impede the use of IP-based technologies;
• Updated the rules to reflect the current administrative responsibilities for the priority services program; and
• Expanded WPS eligibility to additional users, particularly those with response and restoration roles.

Find the full R&O here.

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