TR Daily FCC Seeks Further Input on Improving Wireless Resiliency Framework
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Monday, April 1, 2019

FCC Seeks Further Input on Improving Wireless Resiliency Framework

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau released the third in a series of public notices today seeking input on ways the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework can be improved.

Last November, the bureau wrote signatures to the framework seeking information on how they responded to the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons (TR Daily, Nov. 6, 2018), and the bureau issued public notices in December (TR Daily, Dec. 10, 2018) and January (TR Daily, Jan. 3) soliciting views on backhaul and power issues related to the framework.

“The Bureau now seeks feedback on the implementation and effectiveness of each prong of the Framework, including the Signatories’ responses to the PSHSB Letters and how to best monitor and document its efficacy,” the bureau said today. “The Framework enumerates five prongs of commitment: providing for reasonable roaming arrangements during disasters when technically feasible; fostering mutual aid during emergencies; enhancing municipal preparedness and restoration; increasing consumer readiness and preparation; and improving public awareness and stakeholder communications on service and restoration status.”

Regarding roaming, the bureau said that framework signatories in their letters to the bureau “either explicitly stated or alluded to the roaming agreements that were in place prior to each specific disaster, with varying degrees of detail. For example, some Signatories indicated that due to pre-established roaming arrangements, roaming on partner wireless networks during disasters would not generally require a proactive change or system selection to allow wireless traffic to cross the network and is usually automatic for most wireless subscribers. Other Signatories have indicated that while existing roaming agreements in place prior to an emergency event continue to be recognized without modification, they do not maintain formal roaming agreements that are specific or limited for Framework activated events.”

Among other things, the bureau asked parties to report what devices were able to roam during the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, what would be the most useful metrics to evaluate the roaming commitment, and how likely are roaming agreements to help the restoration or availability of “fully interoperable communications” following a hurricane.

As for mutual aid agreements, the bureau asked how it can measure how effective those accords are and whether there are improvements that would aid in the restoration of service.

Regarding local preparedness and consumer readiness, the questions asked by the bureau in today’s public notice included how well industry best practices, including those released by CTIA, facilitate local coordination; what factors impact whether a community will implement best practices; what is the best way to measure whether signatories are implementing the best practices and how communities are leveraging them; and how well signatories are educating communities and the general public about wireless resiliency preparedness.

As for public awareness of service and restoration status, the bureau asked whether there are additional data elements that carriers should share during emergencies and whether the bureau should recommend other changes to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) that would help aid response and recovery efforts.

As for promotion and monitoring of the framework, the bureau asked for suggestions on additional ways that awareness could be promoted, whether the bureau should mandate after-event summaries in the future, and how it can best monitor each framework prong.

“In reviewing the actions taken related to the seven hurricanes for which the Signatories implemented the Framework, the Bureau is considering whether to recommend to the Commission that the Framework include additional provisions for infrastructure and preparedness,” it noted. “The Bureau has received reports that certain types of infrastructure (e.g., aerial vs. in-ground fiber) may have contributed to the loss of communications during one or more of the hurricanes. The Bureau is interested in hearing from commenters with on-the-ground experience as to whether more specific back-up systems (such as microwave links), types of infrastructure, or number of temporary assets (such as Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs) and Terrestrial Cells on Wheels (COWs)), would help improve communications during disasters and/or facilitate restoration of service after outages. Additionally, the Bureau is interested in hearing about any concerns or issues that have not been discussed or noted in previous Public Notices, comments or discussions of the seven hurricanes.”

Comments on the public notice are due April 29 and replies May 20 in PS docket 11-60.- Paul Kirby, [email protected]

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