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FCC Proposes Updated Network Outage Rules

The FCC adopted a Second Report and Order at its Open Meeting on November 17, promulgating rules requiring service providers to deliver more timely and actionable information to 911 facilities during network outages. The Commission hopes the new rules will streamline the network outage notification process and align the requirements imposed on different service providers.

Maintenance of 911 Special Facility Contact Information

The new rules require both covered 911 service providers (“C9SP”) and Originating Service Providers (“OSPs”) (i.e., cable, satellite, wireless, wireline, and interconnected VoIP providers) to gather and maintain up-to-date, accurate contact information for 911 special facilities. The providers must confirm the accuracy of this contact information at least annually. In this context, “special facilities” are entities enrolled in the TSP Program at priority Levels 1 and 2, which include major military installations, key government facilities, and public safety answering points (“PSAPs”), among others.

Harmonizing Special Facility Notifications for Covered 911 Service Providers and OSPs

The rule changes also harmonize the outage notification obligations across providers.  Under the new rules, both C9SPs and OSPs must notify 911 special facilities about outages by telephone and in writing via electronic means if the provider and 911 special facility have not agreed upon a method for notifications. This obligation previously applied only to C9SPs.

Providers must make the initial notification as soon as possible, but no later than 30 minutes after discovering the outage.  The content included in an outage notification must contain:

  • the name of the providers experiencing the outage,

  • the date and time the incident began,

  • the types of communications affected,

  • contact information at which the service provider can be reached for follow-up,

  • a statement on how the outage potentially affects the 911 facility,

  • the expected date and time of restoration,

  • the best-known cause of the outage, and

  • other pieces of identifying information.

Providers must also update 911 special facilities with additional material outage information as soon as possible after it becomes available and no later than two hours after the initial notification.

Notification When Ceasing Operations

The FCC also requires C9SPs that cease operations to notify the FCC by filing a notification no later than 60 days after the cessation of service. This notification is only required when a provider completely ceases providing covered 911 services as opposed to a situation where the provider might cease service to a particular 911 facility.

Annual 911 Certification Reporting Requirement

The FCC considered reducing the frequency by which C9SPs must file their 911 reliability certifications from annually to biennially. The Commission elected to continue requiring C9SPs to submit reliability certifications annually.

© 2023 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 334

About this Author

Wesley K. Wright, Keller Heckman, Telecommunications Lawyer, FCC Enforcement Attorney, DC

Wesley Wright joined Keller and Heckman in 2006 and practices in the areas of telecommunications law.  He assists corporate clients and trade associations with various legal and regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, courts and state agencies.

Mr. Wright’s practice includes private wireless licensing, FCC enforcement, and related transactional matters.  He counsels clients on internal operations and governance matters and has drafted and negotiated asset purchase agreements,...

Law Graduate

Jason Chun is a Law Graduate with our Telecommunications practice (not yet licensed to practice law as he awaits admittance under the D.C. Bar's Emergency Examination Waiver).