Resilient Networks; Disruptions to Communications; Disruptions to Communications

CourtFederal Communications Commission
Citation86 FR 61103
Published date05 November 2021
Record Number2021-23811
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 212 (Friday, November 5, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 212 (Friday, November 5, 2021)]
                [Proposed Rules]
                [Pages 61103-61112]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-23811]
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                FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
                47 CFR Part 4
                [PS Docket Nos. 21-346, 15-80; ET Docket No. 04-35; FCC 21-99; FR ID
                55366]
                Resilient Networks; Disruptions to Communications; Disruptions to
                Communications
                AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.
                ACTION: Proposed rule.
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                SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission seeks comment on: potential
                improvements to the voluntary Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative
                Framework (Framework), including evaluating what triggers its
                activation, its scope of participants, whether existing Framework
                elements can be strengthened, any gaps that need to be addressed, and
                whether the public would benefit from codifying some or all of the
                Framework; ways to enhance the information available to the Commission
                through the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster
                Information Reporting System (DIRS) during disasters and network
                outages to improve situational awareness; and communications resiliency
                strategies for power outages, including improved coordination between
                communications service providers and power companies and deploying
                onsite backup power or other alternative measures to reduce the
                frequency, duration, or severity of power-related disruptions to
                communications services.
                DATES: Submit comments on or before December 6, 2021, and reply
                comments on or before January 4, 2022.
                ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by PS Docket Nos. 21-346
                and 15-80; ET Docket No. 04-35, by any of the following methods:
                 Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically
                using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.
                 Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must
                file an original and one copy of each filing.
                 Filings can be sent by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
                class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be
                addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary,
                Federal Communications Commission.
                 Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service
                Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive,
                Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.
                 U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority
                mail must be addressed to 45 L Street NE, Washington, DC 20554.
                 Effective March 19, 2020, and until further notice, the
                Commission no longer accepts any hand or messenger delivered filings.
                This is a temporary measure taken to help protect the health and safety
                of individuals, and to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. See FCC
                Announces Closure of FCC Headquarters Open Window and Change in Hand-
                Delivery Policy, Public Notice, DA 20-304 (March 19, 2020). https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-closes-headquarters-open-window-and-changes-hand-delivery-policy.
                 People with disabilities: To request materials in accessible
                formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic
                files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or calling the
                Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
                418-0432 (TTY).
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, contact
                Saswat Misra, Attorney-Advisor, Cybersecurity and Communications
                Reliability Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, (202)
                418-0944 or via email at [email protected].
                SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice
                of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), in PS Docket Nos. 21-346 and 15-80; ET
                Docket No. 04-35; FCC 21-99, adopted on September 30, 2021 and released
                on October 1, 2021. The full text of this document is available by
                downloading the text from the Commission's website at: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-21-99A1.pdf. When the FCC
                Headquarters reopens to the public, the full text of this document will
                also be available for public inspection and copying during regular
                business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 45 L Street NE, Washington,
                DC 20554.
                Synopsis
                I. Introduction
                 1. With this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we propose steps
                to improve the reliability and resiliency of communications networks
                during emergencies. We address these matters against the backdrop of
                Hurricane Ida, which hit the United States as a Category 4 hurricane
                and caused significant flooding and damage in several states along the
                Gulf Coast and the northeastern corridor of the United States.
                Hurricane Ida demonstrated that, while service providers' ability to
                restore communications in the aftermath of a devastating storm has
                improved, more can be done to help ensure that communications networks
                are sufficiently survivable to provide some continuity of service
                during major emergencies and to enhance the ability of service
                providers to restore communications when they fail.
                 2. Specifically, we consolidate several lines of prior inquiry to
                initiate this rulemaking regarding the reliability, resiliency, and
                continuity of communications networks. Hurricane Ida is only the most
                recent disaster that resulted in failures precisely when Americans most
                need to communicate. Recent hurricane and wildfire seasons, earthquakes
                in Puerto Rico, and severe winter storms in Texas demonstrate that
                America's communications infrastructure remains susceptible to
                disruption during disasters. These disruptions can prevent or delay the
                transmission of 911 calls, first responder communications, Emergency
                Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages, and
                other potentially life-saving information. They also can have cascading
                detrimental effects on the economy and other critical infrastructures
                due to
                [[Page 61104]]
                interdependencies among sectors, including the transportation, medical,
                and financial sectors. These disruptions may involve many or all
                communications networks--including wireline, wireless, cable,
                satellite, or broadcast facilities.
                 3. Accordingly, in this NPRM, we seek comment on measures to help
                ensure that communications services remain operational when disasters
                strike. We consider whether elements of the Wireless Network Resiliency
                Cooperative Framework (Framework)--a voluntary agreement developed by
                the wireless industry in 2016 to provide mutual aid in the event of a
                disaster--could be improved to enhance the reliability of communication
                networks. 31 FCC Rcd 13745 (2016) (Framework Order). We also ask
                whether the public would benefit from codifying some or all of the
                Framework into our rules. Next, we seek comment on how the Commission
                can better promote situational awareness during disasters through its
                Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and Network Outage
                Reporting System (NORS). Finally, we explore communications resilience
                strategies to address one of the primary reasons for service
                disruptions: Electric power outages.
                II. Background
                 4. Resilient communications networks are critical to economic
                growth, national security, emergency response, and nearly every facet
                of modern life. The Commission has long been concerned with enhancing
                the reliability and resiliency of the Nation's communications
                infrastructure. In 2004, the Commission adopted rules that require
                certain communications providers to supply the Commission with outage
                reports to address ``the critical need for rapid, complete, and
                accurate information on service disruptions that could affect homeland
                security, public health or safety, and the economic well-being of our
                Nation, especially in view of the increasing importance of non-wireline
                communications in the Nation's communications networks and critical
                infrastructure.'' 69 FR 68859 (Nov. 26, 2004) (2004 Part 4 Report and
                Order). Under these rules, service providers must submit outage reports
                to the Commission through NORS for outages that exceed specified
                duration and magnitude thresholds. 47 CFR 4.9. The Commission analyzes
                NORS outage reports to, in the short term, assess the magnitude of
                major outages, and in the long-term, identify network reliability
                trends and determine whether the outages likely could have been
                prevented or mitigated had the service providers followed certain
                network reliability best practices.
                 5. In 2007, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Commission
                established DIRS as a web-based means for service providers, including
                wireless, wireline, broadcast, and cable providers, to voluntarily
                report to the Commission their communications infrastructure status,
                restoration information, and situational awareness information
                specifically during times of crisis. The Commission recently required a
                subset of service providers that receive Stage 2 funding from the
                Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund or the Connect USVI Fund to report in DIRS
                when it is activated in their respective territories. 34 FCC Rcd 9109,
                9174, 9176-77, paras. 133, 138-140 (2019) (Puerto Rico & USVI USF Fund
                Report and Order). The Commission typically activates DIRS for affected
                counties in the event of major emergencies. These announcements often
                note that the Commission is suspending its rules on network outage
                reporting for DIRS participants during the activation period.
                 6. DIRS data have provided critical situational awareness during
                communications outages, even when information is shared only on an
                aggregated or limited basis. The Commission's analysis informs
                restoration efforts by federal partners and the agency's own
                assessments of communications reliability during disasters. For
                example, the Commission prepares and provides aggregated DIRS
                information, without company-identifying information, to the Department
                of Homeland Security (DHS), which then distributes the information to a
                DHS-led group of federal agencies tasked with coordinating disaster
                response efforts, including other units in DHS, during incidents. This
                DHS-led group is the Emergency Support Function #2 (ESF-2), which is
                composed of other participants including the Department of Agriculture,
                Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, General Services
                Administration, Department of Interior, and the Federal Communications
                Commission. Agencies use the analyses for their situational awareness
                and for determining restoration priorities for communications services
                and infrastructure in affected areas. The Commission also provides
                aggregated data, without company-identifying information, to the public
                during disasters. Recently, the Commission established a framework to
                provide additional federal, state, Tribal, and territorial partners
                with access to the critical NORS and DIRS information they need to
                ensure the public's safety while preserving the presumptive
                confidentiality of the information.
                 7. Also following Hurricane Katrina in 2007, the Commission adopted
                backup power obligations in limited contexts. In 2007, the Commission
                adopted a rule requiring Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS)
                providers and local exchange carriers to maintain emergency backup
                power for a minimum of 24 hours for assets inside central offices and
                eight hours for cell sites, remote switches, and digital loop carrier
                system remote terminals. After observing the severe impact on 911
                networks across the Midwest caused by the 2012 derecho storm, the
                Commission took steps to promote 911 network reliability and resiliency
                by requiring covered 911 service providers to take reasonable measures
                to provide reliable 911 service, including through providing for
                central office backup power. 47 CFR 9.19(a)(4) (defining a ``covered
                911 service provider'' as an entity that provides 911, E911, or [Next
                Generation 911 (NG911)] capabilities such as call routing, automatic
                location information (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), or
                the functional equivalent of those capabilities, directly to a [Public
                Safety Answering Point (PSAP)], statewide default answering point, or
                appropriate local emergency authority, or an entity that operates one
                or more central offices that directly serve a PSAP). Covered 911
                service providers must annually certify to the Commission that they
                have taken ``reasonable measures to provide reliable 911 service with
                respect to 911 circuit diversity, availability of central office backup
                power, and diverse network monitoring,'' or they must certify to taking
                alternative measures that ``are reasonably sufficient to mitigate the
                risk of failure or that one or more certification elements are not
                applicable to its network.'' 47 CFR 9.19(b). Covered 911 service
                providers must certify their compliance with backup power standards of
                24 hours for central offices that provide administrative lines for
                Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and 72 hours for central offices
                that have a selective router that directs 911 calls. 47 CFR 9.19.
                Further, the Commission has adopted rules requiring that providers of
                facilities-based, fixed voice service offered as a residential service
                provide their subscribers the options to purchase, at the point of
                sale, solutions that provide 8 and 24 hours of backup power for the
                service. 47 CFR 9.20.
                 8. In 2013, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Commission again
                took up
                [[Page 61105]]
                the issue of communications infrastructure resiliency, particularly
                that of wireless resiliency; specifically, the Commission proposed to
                require facilities-based Commercial Mobile Radio Service providers to
                submit to the Commission for public disclosure, on a daily basis during
                and immediately after major disasters, the percentage of cell sites
                within their networks that are providing service. On December 14, 2016,
                in lieu of adopting this proposal, the Commission adopted an Order
                supporting the voluntary Framework, intended to promote resilient
                communications and situational awareness during disasters. Framework
                Order, 31 FCC Rcd at 13745-46, paras. 1-2. The Framework commits its
                participants to five prongs: 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. An emergency or disaster activates the
                Framework where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
                activates ESF-2 and the Commission activates DIRS. ESFs provide the
                structure for coordinating Federal interagency support for a Federal
                response to an incident. ESF-2 coordinates Federal actions to assist
                industry in restoring the public communications infrastructure and to
                assist State, tribal, and local governments with emergency
                communications and restoration of public safety communications systems
                and first responder networks.
                 9. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in
                conjunction with its review of federal efforts to improve the
                resiliency of wireless networks during natural disasters and other
                physical incidents, released a report recommending that the Commission
                should improve its monitoring of industry efforts to strengthen
                wireless network resiliency. The GAO found that the number of wireless
                outages attributed to a physical incident--a natural disaster,
                accident, or other manmade event, such as vandalism--increased from 189
                in 2009 to 1,079 in 2016. The GAO concluded that more robust measures
                and a better plan to monitor the Framework would help the FCC collect
                information on the Framework and evaluate its effectiveness, and that
                such steps could help the FCC decide if further action is needed. In
                light of prolonged outages during several emergency events in 2017 and
                2018, and in parallel with the GAO recommendations, the Public Safety
                and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) conducted several inquiries and
                investigations to better understand and track the output and
                effectiveness of the Framework and other voluntary coordination efforts
                that promote wireless network resiliency and situational awareness
                during and after these hurricanes and other emergencies. In February
                2020, following a series of PSHSB staff coordination meetings with
                wireless, backhaul and electric service providers to discuss the gaps
                identified in the above record, CTIA and the Edison Electric Institute
                formed the Cross-Sector Resiliency Forum on February 27, 2020 and
                released a 12-step action plan to improving wireless resiliency.
                 10. In the days leading up to landfall of Hurricane Ida on August
                29, 2021, the FCC had begun coordinating response activities with the
                State of Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the
                Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and members of the
                Communications Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Comm-ISAC) and
                to determine potential impacts, challenges, and mutual aid resources.
                The Commission had already deployed agents to support the Louisiana
                Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and to conduct baseline surveys of
                communications as well as to provide coordination and spectrum
                management support. Communications companies had also begun pre-
                positioning mobile communications assets in safe zones just outside the
                potential impact areas in order to rapidly deploy much-needed services,
                post landfall. Ida had significant physical impacts on both power and
                communications infrastructure, which had cascading consequences on
                interdependent public safety communications infrastructure and services
                such as PSAPs and Louisiana's land mobile radio public safety
                communications network.
                 11. Following Hurricane Ida's departure, the Commission began
                supporting recovery work in earnest. The Commission reminded
                communications industry of its commitments in the Framework and
                encouraged wireless providers, specifically, to activate roaming in
                areas where cellular communications were hardest hit. Even after
                roaming had been activated in limited areas, communications remained
                diminished as communications companies were working to repair, replace,
                and restore communications infrastructure. Immediately after the storm,
                28.1 percent of cell sites were down across the affected counties.
                Louisiana was hardest hit in this respect, with more than 50 percent of
                sites down in the affected counties on August 30. At its peak,
                Louisiana had three PSAPs offline due to damaged power and
                communications infrastructure, and other PSAPs were impacted and
                rerouted calls as generators began to fail. Commission personnel
                communicated with the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters to
                determine unmet fuel, communications, and power needs of state
                broadcasters and to facilitate the provision of much needed resources
                and services.
                 12. Commission staff also conducted on-the-ground assessments of
                communications infrastructure to provide emergency management officials
                intelligence and to assist with the identification of critical
                communications infrastructure, including responding to additional
                unintentional damage occurring during repairs to the communications and
                power infrastructure. The Commission also issued special temporary
                authorizations (STAs) and, sua sponte, numerous orders to provide
                regulatory relief in support of providers' restoration efforts,
                including waivers of deadlines and technical requirements, as well as
                providing relief to impacted consumers. This work remains ongoing as
                recovery continues.
                III. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
                A. Improving the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework
                 13. The voluntary Framework plays a central role in how wireless
                providers prepare for and respond to emergencies. Over the years, the
                Commission has examined and re-examined the efficacy of the Framework
                for purposes of restoring communications during and following
                disasters. These inquiries suggest that providers take a multifaceted
                approach to disaster readiness and response, with the aim of improving
                the public's safety during natural disasters. Wireless provider efforts
                have included investments in network resiliency, reinforcing network
                coverage and capacity, conducting site-based preparatory work, and
                making plans to mitigate commercial power failures, as well as
                utilizing commercial roaming agreements, working with government
                partners, and educating consumers on preparedness. These initiatives
                have helped to keep more Americans connected and informed even during
                major disasters.
                 14. However, these inquiries also show that there are both gaps in
                the
                [[Page 61106]]
                Framework's coverage and, during some recent disasters, delays in its
                implementation, including technical challenges associated with roaming
                implementation among signatory companies. Further, as explained below,
                there are some disaster situations where the Framework, by its owns
                terms, would not go into effect. These findings from our prior
                inquiries suggest there may be targeted opportunities to improve the
                voluntary Framework and network resiliency--not just of wireless
                networks, but of communications networks as a whole. We seek comment on
                those opportunities below. We also seek comment on whether the
                Commission should revisit the voluntary nature of the Framework.
                 15. Framework Activation. Currently, the Framework only applies
                when both ESF-2 and DIRS are activated. As a result, there may be
                circumstances where the Framework is not activated but where mutual aid
                or other support obligations are warranted. For example, the Framework
                has not been operational during the California power shutoffs and
                wildfires because ESF-2 was not activated. To address this gap, should
                we work with carriers to revisit the prerequisites, e.g., the types of
                emergencies or other declarations (ESF-2 and DIRS activation) that
                trigger the Framework or that govern the duration of its obligations?
                If so, what should those triggers and durations be?
                 16. Scope of Framework Participants. We seek comment on whether
                expanding the scope of the Framework participants could enhance its
                effectiveness. Currently, signatories to the Framework include only
                AT&T Mobility, CTIA, GCI, Southern Linc, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and
                Verizon Wireless. Additionally, the Competitive Carriers Association
                filed a letter supporting the Framework. As the list of signatories
                demonstrates, there are a number of wireless providers who are not
                signatories to the Framework. Further, the Framework signatories only
                include wireless providers. Would greater participation in the
                Framework enhance its effectiveness? Are there steps the Commission can
                take to encourage voluntary participation beyond the scope of the
                existing signatories, such as to include smaller wireless providers, or
                entities beyond the mobile-wireless industry, such as facilities-based
                backhaul providers, covered 911 service providers, cable, wireline,
                broadcast, satellite, or interconnected VoIP providers? Should the
                Framework or portions of the Framework be expanded to include any other
                stakeholders or organizations?
                 17. Improving Wireless Roaming. The Framework commits its
                signatories to provide reasonable roaming in situations where: ``(i) A
                requesting carrier's network has become inoperable and the requesting
                carrier has taken all appropriate steps to attempt to restore its own
                network, and (ii) the home carrier has determined that roaming is
                technically feasible and will not adversely affect service to the home
                carrier's own subscribers,'' with such roaming arrangements ``limited
                in duration and contingent on the requesting carrier taking all
                possible steps to restore service on its own network as quickly as
                possible.'' Framework Order, 31 FCC at 13752-53, para 19.
                 18. Recent events suggest that roaming during disaster contexts can
                be improved. As the Hurricane Michael Report found, ``at least some
                wireless providers did not take advantage of the types of disaster-
                related roaming agreements envisioned in the Framework, allowing their
                customers to remain in the dark rather than roam on a competitor's
                network.'' FCC, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, October
                2018 Hurricane Michael's Impact on Communications: Preparation, Effect,
                and Recovery, PS Docket No. 18-339, Report and Recommendations at 6
                (PSHSB 2019), https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-357387A1.pdf
                (Hurricane Michael Report). During Hurricane Ida, there was limited
                transparency, and therefore understanding, regarding the status of
                roaming, including where it was available and where it was not, and
                which network technologies were utilized. We seek comment on how best
                to address these issues through the voluntary Framework. Are the
                current Framework pre-requisites to triggering disaster roaming too
                restrictive, to the detriment of consumers? In particular, we seek
                comment on improvements to the Framework to ensure roaming is
                operational prior to an event and seamless during emergencies--
                addressing both resiliency and restoration--such as annual testing of
                roaming capabilities and coordination processes. Are there other
                improvements that can be made to ensure that roaming is made available
                in a timely manner and for the benefit of the maximum population
                possible? For example, should there be minimum timeframes by which a
                provider must respond to a disaster roaming request? Are there
                conditions or other criteria that could be incorporated into the
                Framework to determine that, once met, roaming should be available
                automatically in qualifying disaster areas? If a roaming request is
                deemed technically infeasible, how should that determination be
                conveyed? What criteria should be used to determine whether roaming is
                technically feasible? Have there been instances where roaming requests
                have been unreasonably denied or responses to such requests have been
                unreasonably delayed, or where the roaming-related provisions of the
                Framework did not work as intended? During Hurricane Ida, we understand
                that initial requests for roaming under the Framework focused on access
                to 3G networks. Are there benefits to encouraging roaming access to
                newer generations of network technology and, if so, how can the
                Commission best support such arrangements? To what extent do capacity
                challenges or network configuration issues also hinder effective
                roaming, and how should any improvements to the Framework account for
                this concern? Should there be any improvement in the standards or their
                implementations to ensure the emergency roaming is automatically and
                seamlessly accessible to user devices without requiring any action from
                the user? Can providers' readiness to execute such disaster-triggered
                roaming be verified and tested? What are the public safety benefits and
                costs associated with these improvements in wireless roaming?
                 19. Fostering Mutual Aid. The Framework commits its signatories to
                foster mutual aid during disasters. Nevertheless, we observed prolonged
                outages during Hurricane Ida. We seek comment on how signatories
                fostered mutual aid, such as through sharing physical assets, during
                Hurricane Ida and other recent disasters, and how effective this mutual
                aid has been in ensuring continuity of communications. Are there
                instances in which reasonable requests for mutual aid were denied by
                wireless providers? Should the Framework do more to strengthen the
                effectiveness of mutual aid? What benefits would accrue if other
                segments of the communications industry--such as cable, wireline, and
                broadcast--agreed to foster mutual aid during disasters?
                 20. Enhancing Municipal Preparedness and Restoration. Framework
                signatories convened with local government representatives' public
                safety subject matter experts and developed best practices to
                facilitate coordination before, during, and after emergencies and
                disasters in order to maintain and restore wireless service continuity.
                Were these best practices
                [[Page 61107]]
                utilized in Hurricane Ida and other disasters, and how effective were
                these best practices in real-world conditions? Should they be updated
                in light of lessons learned from these disasters? Are there additional
                actions that wireless providers and other stakeholders (e.g., backhaul
                service, wireline service providers) can take to ensure appropriate and
                effective coordination with local agencies to mitigate the impact of
                service disruptions? What are the respective costs and benefits? For
                example, should providers establish processes for sharing real-time
                restoration efforts? Should the Framework include coordination
                obligations and particular coordination activities or best practices?
                Are there are other steps that the Commission can take to improve
                coordination? The Commission also seeks comment on the recommendations
                of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee's Disaster Response and
                Recovery Working Group pertaining to coordination with local
                governments and building and maintaining formal relationships across
                industry and government stakeholders, and coordination and information
                sharing between stakeholders during the disaster planning and recovery
                phases.
                 21. Increasing Local Preparedness and Consumer Readiness. The
                Framework commits signatories to increase consumer readiness and
                preparation through the development and dissemination with consumer
                groups of a Consumer Readiness Checklist. Is there evidence that the
                public is aware of this checklist? How is it promoted? Are there other
                steps that wireless providers should take to foster local preparedness
                and consumer readiness in the face of natural disasters, such as public
                service announcements? What are the benefits and costs associated with
                those steps? Should the Commission explore additional consumer
                awareness and preparedness activities?
                 22. What measures are in place to ensure that information is
                accessible to all Americans? Consumer groups note that the deaf and
                hard-of-hearing communities often rely on multiple forms of
                communications before and during emergencies, and recommend that
                signatories work with these communities to ensure information is
                accessible. Should the Framework require signatories to conduct
                outreach through multiple forms of communication, such as public
                service announcements on television, radio, and social media that is
                accessible to both hard-of-hearing and non-English speaking
                communities? Verizon suggests providers can maintain a dedicated
                website for a specific disaster event. Should the Framework require
                signatories to meet with groups representing persons with disabilities
                to provide information on emergency planning and resources? Are there
                other steps the Commission should take to improve communications with
                these and other communities?
                 23. Improving Public Awareness. Finally, the Framework commits
                signatories to improve public awareness and stakeholder communications
                on service and restoration status, through sharing DIRS data on cell
                site outages on an aggregated, county-by-county basis in the relevant
                geographic area. Since the Framework was released, signatories have
                agreed to share additional data with the public, including more
                granular data on the cause of cell site outages and the number of in-
                service cell sites operating on backup power. The Commission has also
                requested comment on whether other outage data, e.g., whether the
                service disruption extends to 911 service, should be disclosed to the
                public. See Amendments to Part 4 of the Commission's Rules Concerning
                Disruptions to Communications, et al., Third Notice of Proposed
                Rulemaking, FCC 21-45, 2021 WL 1603461, at *13-16, paras. 36-46 (Apr.
                22, 2021). Would public disclosure of additional information regarding
                service disruptions promote public safety? If so, what additional
                information should be disclosed? What are the benefits and costs
                associated with releasing this information directly to the public? What
                mechanisms are in place in communities to impart awareness about
                recovery planning and long term-term resiliency, and are those
                mechanisms accessible to persons with disabilities? How might those
                mechanisms differ across communities or geographic areas, and how can
                those differences be accommodated by Framework signatories?
                 24. Scope of Framework Obligations. We seek comment on the scope of
                the Framework's obligations. Should we expand the scope of what is
                expected in the event of a disaster? What additional or revised
                measures are warranted to address gaps in promoting resiliency and what
                are their costs and benefits? For example, should the voluntary
                Framework include provisions regarding the placement of back-up
                systems, such as Cells on Light Trucks, so that they are ready to
                deploy for vulnerable infrastructure to improve service restoration
                time? Should the Framework include requirements for restoration or
                prioritization of text-to-911 capability in areas where the PSAP is
                text-capable, as text-to-911 can be an important communications
                solution in emergencies, particularly for individuals with
                disabilities? Should the Framework include provisions that address
                backhaul redundancy and resiliency? For example, could the Framework
                address a limit on the number of cell sites operating on a single
                backhaul fiber link? What other steps would promote backhaul resiliency
                during disasters?
                 25. Framework-Related Reporting. We seek comment on whether we
                should require wireless providers to submit reports to the Commission
                detailing implementation of the voluntary Framework in real time or in
                the aftermath of a disaster. What are the benefits and costs associated
                with such a reporting requirement? We seek comment on what information
                these reports should include, such as specific information related to
                the way the provider adhered to any roaming, mutual aid, consumer
                outreach, or related provisions of the Framework suggested above. For
                example, should the Commission be notified when roaming has been
                activated or refused, including information on which generational
                technologies it has been activated, and as to which providers are
                roaming on which networks? Should the Commission be notified when
                resources or services are shared through mutual aid? How soon after
                wireless provider action should such notifications be made and how
                should they be made?
                 26. Codifying the Framework. In response to our prior inquiries,
                some commenters have urged the Commission to reexamine the voluntary
                nature of the Framework. Some of these commenters highlight the
                Commission's Hurricane Michael Report to suggest that existing
                voluntary coordination efforts, including the Framework, may not be
                sufficient to promote wireless network resiliency and situational
                awareness during and immediately after emergencies. Accordingly, we
                seek comment on whether some or all of the existing or a modified
                Framework should be mandatory, and for whom. What are the costs and
                benefits of doing so? We also seek comment on our legal authority to
                mandate disaster-based obligations in line with the existing or an
                expanded Framework. Would the aggregate of these solutions address the
                failures highlighted by the Hurricane Michael Report or should
                additional measures be considered? Finally, we seek comment on how the
                Commission should enforce any mandatory obligations that are not met.
                [[Page 61108]]
                B. Promoting Situational Awareness During Disasters
                 27. Over the years, our experience has shown that DIRS and NORS are
                vital public safety tools that equip the Commission and its federal and
                local partners with actionable situational awareness information for
                identifying and resolving threats to 911 and other emergency service
                communications. DIRS focuses on infrastructure status information
                rather than service outage information, as in NORS. NORS thus draws a
                distinction between service outages that affect just 911 and other
                types of service outages. Currently, there is limited visibility on how
                disasters impact 911 service specifically. Requiring DIRS reporting in
                the event of disaster-related outages would help to close this
                information gap. Amendments to Part 4 of the Commission's Rules
                Concerning Disruptions to Communications, PS Docket No. 15-80, Second
                Report and Order, 36 FCC Rcd 6136, 6139, paras. 8, 9 (2021). DIRS
                broadly collects infrastructure status information about the nation's
                communications networks, but participation is voluntary for the
                nation's service providers. While DIRS is voluntary, the Commission
                recently required a subset of service providers that choose to accept
                Stage 2 funding from the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund or the Connect USVI
                Fund to report in DIRS when it is activated in their respective
                territories. Puerto Rico & USVI USF Fund Report and Order, 34 FCC Rcd
                at 9174, 9176-77, paras. 133, 138-140.
                 28. The Commission initially grounded its voluntary approach on
                observations that a voluntary paradigm worked well during Hurricane
                Katrina and that a mandatory reporting process would likely not be
                adaptable to unique aspects of each particular crisis. Recommendations
                of the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on
                Communications Networks, EB Docket No. 06-119 et al., Order, 22 FCC Rcd
                10541, 10549, para. 22 (2007). Since that time, the Commission has
                observed that, while the nation's large providers typically elect to
                voluntarily report in DIRS, smaller providers often do not. This not
                only reduces the total number of DIRS filings available to inform the
                Commission's analysis of network reliability, but also reduces the
                Commission's situational awareness, including awareness of the state of
                911 and other emergency services, in locations served by smaller
                providers, which are often vulnerable rural or other hard to access
                areas. This also creates ambiguity about whether a provider's lack of
                DIRS filings means that its network infrastructure actually remains
                undamaged, it is choosing not to voluntarily participate in DIRS, or it
                is unable to file, e.g., because it cannot access DIRS due to
                disruption of its internet access.
                 29. Meanwhile, NORS participation is mandatory, but it is centered
                on disruptions to voice telephony. Under our rules, certain service
                providers--wireline, cable, satellite, wireless, interconnected VoIP,
                and Signaling System 7 providers--must submit outage reports to NORS
                for voice and other outages that exceed specified duration and
                magnitude thresholds. 47 CFR 4.9. Service providers are required to
                submit a preliminary notification within two hours after determining
                that an outage is reportable, followed by an initial outage report
                within three calendar days, and a final report no later than 30 days
                after discovering the outage. 47 CFR 4.9. These reports are intended to
                address ``the critical need for rapid, complete, and accurate
                information on service disruptions that could affect homeland security,
                public health or safety, and the economic well-being of our Nation . .
                . .'' 2004 Part 4 Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 16833, para. 1. The
                Bureau analyzes NORS data to assess the magnitude of major outages,
                identify trends, and promote network reliability. However, these outage
                reporting requirements do not collect information about disruptions
                specifically to broadband service. This means the Commission has
                limited situational awareness about outages involving broadband
                service.
                 30. We seek comment on steps the Commission can take to address
                these issues and encourage better situational awareness through DIRS
                and NORS. Starting with DIRS, are there steps the Commission can take
                to encourage broader voluntary participation during disasters,
                including from smaller providers? Alternatively, should the Commission
                consider requiring the nation's service providers, i.e., cable
                providers, Direct Broadcast Satellite providers, Satellite Digital
                Audio Radio Service, TV and radio broadcasters, Commercial Mobile Radio
                Service and other wireless service providers, wireline providers, and
                VoIP providers, to report their infrastructure status information in
                DIRS when the Commission activates DIRS in geographic areas in which
                they broadcast or otherwise provide service? We recognize that a
                proposed requirement to file in DIRS must be balanced against
                additional burdens on service providers, particularly as DIRS reports
                are filed in the midst of disasters and other emergencies. If we were
                to explore requiring DIRS filing, we seek comment on our legal
                authority to do so, the costs and benefits associated with mandatory
                reporting, and how the Commission should enforce any failure to file
                DIRS information.
                 31. With respect to NORS, we seek comment on the public interest
                benefits and the costs of reporting of broadband service outages. Would
                such reporting likewise improve emergency managers' situational
                awareness during disasters? Or do public safety officials and others
                currently have access to broadband service outage data through other
                means? Could this data be leveraged to help identify broadband outage
                trends, and if so, how could this knowledge support first response and
                network reliability efforts?
                 32. We seek comment on suspension of NORS reporting requirements
                during disasters. Under our current voluntary DIRS reporting approach,
                the Bureau suspends NORS reporting obligations, via public notice, for
                providers who elect to report in DIRS for the duration of its
                activation period. Formally codifying this practice in our rules may
                give providers more clarity on their obligations and streamline and
                formalize existing practices. We therefore seek comment on whether to
                codify in our part 4 rules the Commission's typical practice of
                granting to providers a waiver of their NORS reporting requirements
                when they report the outage in DIRS. Are there needs of public safety
                officials or others that are not being met by the current reporting
                practices? If so, will such gaps remain when our NORS and DIRS
                information sharing rules become effective? Amendments to Part 4 of the
                Commission's Rules Concerning Disruptions to Communications, PS Docket
                No. 15-80, Second Report and Order, 36 FCC Rcd 6136 (2021).
                 33. We note that there may be instances in which DIRS is
                deactivated but some providers have not yet fully restored service,
                resulting in limited continuing outages. In these instances, the
                Commission no longer has situational awareness as to the status of
                those providers' services, because updates are no longer being filed in
                DIRS and the outage was never filed in NORS. We seek comment on how to
                best address this gap and ensure that the Commission maintains
                situational awareness of outages. Should providers with ongoing outages
                at the time of DIRS deactivation be required to report those outages in
                NORS?
                 34. In light of the concerns noted above, we also seek comment on
                steps
                [[Page 61109]]
                the Commission can take to increase its situational awareness of the
                state of 911 and other emergency services.
                C. Addressing Power Outages
                 35. The recent devastation wrought by Hurricane Ida, which left
                hundreds of thousands of Louisianans without power, water, and other
                basic utilities, also extended to the region's communications
                infrastructure. Data compiled by the Commission shows that
                approximately half of all cellular sites in New Orleans and the
                surrounding disaster area remained out of service nearly two days after
                the worst effects of Ida had passed, with no clear timetable for the
                restoration of these networks. NORS and DIRS data collected by the
                Commission in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and other recent disaster
                events reveal that a lack of commercial power at key equipment and
                facilities is the single biggest reason why communications networks
                transmitting 911 service and related emergency information fail in the
                aftermath of disaster events. For example, the Commission's DIRS data
                show that the majority of cell site outages in the immediate aftermath
                of Hurricane Ida's central disaster region were due to a lack of
                commercial power availability. Communications Status Report for Areas
                Impacted by Hurricane Ida at 5-6 (August 31, 2021), https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-375367A1.pdf.
                 36. More generally, Commission analysis of DIRS data shows that
                over 50% of cell site outages that occurred during major 2020
                earthquakes, hurricanes, and storms were due to power failures. The
                Commission's NORS outage data similarly reveal that the number of
                outages caused by power failures has been steadily increasing for the
                past several years and that power failures are currently driving a
                nationwide trend in the increase of outages. The Commission received
                9,158 outage reports in 2020 alone for communications disruptions
                caused by power failures, potentially affecting 63,097,389 customers.
                Of those customers, 4.3 million potentially experienced service
                disruptions on a single day.
                 37. Without power to support providers' network operations in the
                aftermath of disasters, the public is unable to place potentially life-
                saving 911 calls, local emergency management officials are unable to
                transmit EAS and WEA messages, evacuation orders, and other public
                safety-related information, and first responders are unable to
                coordinate effectively to save lives and property. Conversely, with
                backup power in place, providers are able to bring their networks
                online and, if necessary, immediately begin diagnosing and addressing
                damage that their networks may have sustained.
                 38. Hurricane Ida thus continues an unfortunate (though potentially
                addressable) trend, demonstrating that the nation's communications
                infrastructure remains highly prone to failure due to disruptions to
                commercial power in the face of disasters. This reinforces observations
                that we have made during recent hurricane and wildfire seasons,
                earthquakes in Puerto Rico, and this year's severe winter storms in
                Texas. If the current trend continues without corrective action, the
                frequency of outages will worsen in coming years as the nation
                experiences disaster events of increasing severity, duration, and
                impact, including hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.
                [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05NO21.037
                 This figure depicts the number of monthly final outage reports in
                NORS with power failure as a reported cause over time. The red dots
                represent the numbers of outage reports in 2Q21 months and blue dots
                represent months prior to 2Q21. The green line shows the expected
                number of outages in each month without taking seasonality effects into
                account; as such, it represents the general overall trend in the three-
                year window immediately preceding 2Q21 (April 2018 through March 2021).
                The shaded gray area indicates a 99% confidence interval for each
                month. This confidence interval is defined by the expected number of
                outages in each month based on the trend and seasonality effects. These
                data do not include outages caused by power failures that were reported
                in DIRS. They also do not include outages that are not service
                affecting (e.g., outages of transport facilities with diverse routes)
                [[Page 61110]]
                or special facility outages (outages of single circuits with
                Telecommunications Service Priority Level 1 or 2).
                 39. In view of this context, we now seek to explore communications
                resilience strategies for power outages. As part of this review, we
                seek to identify actions the Commission, communications providers, and
                power companies can cooperatively take to encourage and increase
                coordination in the power and communications sectors before, during,
                and after an emergency or disaster. We also seek to better understand
                how changing circumstances since the Commission's last broad
                consideration of backup power (including trends showing increasingly
                severe storms, wildfires, and other disasters, and advances in power
                technology) may bear on whether and how backup power or alternative
                measures may help promote continuity of power, including for PSAPs and
                emergency services. We seek comment on this issue.
                 40. As an initial matter, we seek comment on communications service
                provider coordination with power companies before, during, and after
                disasters, including efforts of the Cross-Sector Resiliency Forum. Are
                existing coordination efforts effective at minimizing communications
                service outages that are caused by power outages? Are there
                coordination activities that communications service provider and power
                companies could potentially take that have not yet been formalized or
                operationalized? If so, what steps could the Commission take to
                encourage this coordination? For example, should the Commission convene
                stakeholders from the electric industry, telecommunications sector, and
                public safety agencies to take part in regional coordination events to
                encourage greater cross-sector coordination in preparing for and in
                response to disasters? Should the Commission coordinate with
                gubernatorial offices and state emergency management agencies to
                encourage integrating communications providers and power companies into
                response planning, execution, and exercises?
                 41. Next, we seek comment on how backup power or alternative
                measures may help promote the continuity of service during or after
                disasters. We seek comment on the current state of providers' backup
                power implementations. For example, how many hours of backup power do
                providers typically maintain, what technologies do they use to meet
                their requirements, and how readily deployable are those technologies
                when needed? Does the amount or type of backup power solution differ
                depending upon the facility or type of infrastructure? What are the
                benefits and challenges of maintaining backup power on-site? If not
                maintained on-site, how could providers ensure that they can move
                backup power resources on-site with minimal delay when disaster
                strikes? What steps do providers take to adequately mitigate the risk
                that a disaster event that disrupts primary power would also knock out
                any on-site backup power resources (e.g., fuel generators)? What types
                of backup power solutions are available for the various elements of
                infrastructure that may require it?
                 42. We seek comment on what steps service providers would need to
                take with respect to backup power deployment to significantly reduce
                the number of communications disruptions caused by power outages. How
                many hours of on-site backup power would be appropriate at their
                facilities to significantly reduce the frequency of power-related
                service disruptions? Are there events or geographic areas in which more
                hours of backup power are needed than others? To maximize the
                effectiveness of backup power solutions, should backup power be
                provisioned at certain critical points in communications
                infrastructure, and if so, at which points? In general, how should the
                Commission define or otherwise identify facilities and equipment that
                are critical to ensuring that emergency communications can be
                transmitted in the aftermath of a disaster? Are there differences
                across different types of communications networks or geographies where
                they are located that are relevant to deployment of backup power
                solutions or performance during power outages more generally? Is the
                deployment of on-site backup power sufficient to keep networks online
                in view of other potentially independent factors that may cause a
                network to fail during a disaster, e.g., lack of hardened and resilient
                network equipment? If it is not sufficient, what other steps should
                service providers take to avoid service disruptions? What are the
                associated costs and benefits?
                 43. As we explore the potential for wider backup power
                implementation, we seek comment on service providers' experiences with
                any state-specific backup power requirements as well as the potential
                cost of implementation.
                 44. We also seek comment on any alternatives to on-site backup
                power that have also proven successful or have the potential to reduce
                the frequency, duration, or severity of disruptions to communications
                services caused by power outages. Are there other technical solutions
                for preventing service disruptions caused by power outages or other
                efforts to reduce the number of service disruptions that we have not
                raised here?
                 45. We also seek comment on the Commission's existing requirements
                for covered 911 service providers to implement reasonable central-
                office backup power measures to ensure 911 reliability. 47 CFR 9.19(b).
                The Commission adopted these and other requirements for covered 911
                service providers to promote 911 network resiliency. 47 CFR 9.19. As
                noted above, Louisiana had three PSAPs offline due to damaged power and
                communications infrastructure in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Other
                PSAPs were also impacted as generators began to fail. Are there steps
                the Commission can take, such as revisions to our resiliency rules
                (see, e.g., 47 CFR parts 4, 9) or encouraging of voluntary measures, to
                make it more likely that PSAPs will have the necessary resources to
                continue service during and after disasters? Are there other
                considerations pertaining to 911 outages and access to emergency
                services in the wake of a disaster?
                 46. Digital Equity and Inclusion. Finally, the Commission, as part
                of its continuing effort to advance digital equity for all, including
                people of color, persons with disabilities, persons who live in rural
                or Tribal areas, and others who are or have been historically
                underserved, marginalized, or adversely affected by persistent poverty
                or inequality, invites comment on any equity-related considerations and
                benefits (if any) that may be associated with the proposals and issues
                discussed herein. Specifically, we seek comment on how our proposals
                may promote or inhibit advances in diversity, equity, inclusion, and
                accessibility, as well the scope of the Commission's relevant legal
                authority.
                IV. Procedural Matters
                 47. Paperwork Reduction Act. This document contains proposed new
                and modified information collection requirements. The Commission, as
                part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the
                general public and the OMB to comment on the information collection
                requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork
                Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant to the
                Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44
                U.S.C. 3506(c)(4),
                [[Page 61111]]
                we seek specific comment on how we might further reduce the information
                collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25
                employees.
                 48. Ex Parte Rules--Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding shall be
                treated as ``permit-but-disclose'' proceedings in accordance with the
                Commission's ex parte rules. 47 CFR 1.1200-1.1216. Persons making ex
                parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a
                memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days
                after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the
                Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations
                are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must: (1) List
                all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at
                which the ex parte presentation was made; and (2) summarize all data
                presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the
                presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data
                or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments,
                memoranda, or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may
                provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior
                comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page
                and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in
                lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to
                Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex
                parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b).
                In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has
                made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte
                presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations,
                and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic
                comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed
                in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf).
                Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the
                Commission's ex parte rules.
                 49. Regulatory Flexibility Act. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of
                1980, as amended (RFA), requires that a regulatory flexibility analysis
                be prepared for notice and comment rulemaking proceedings, unless the
                agency certifies that ``the rule will not, if promulgated, have a
                significant economic impact on a substantial number of small
                entities.'' 5 U.S.C. 605(b). Accordingly, the Commission has prepared
                an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) concerning potential
                rule and policy changes contained in this Notice of Proposed
                Rulemaking.
                V. Legal Basis
                 50. Authority for the actions proposed in this Notice of Proposed
                Rulemaking may be found in sections 1, 4(i) through (j), 4(n) through
                (o), 201, 202, 214, 218, 251(e)(3), 254, 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r),
                307, 309(a), 309(j), 316, 332 and 403, of the Communications Act of
                1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i) through (j), 154(n) through
                (o), 201, 202, 214, 218, 251(e)(3), 254, 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r),
                307, 309(a), 309(j), 316, 332, 403; sections 2, 3(b), and 6 and 7 of
                the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, 47 U.S.C.
                615 note, 615, 615a-1, 615b, section 106 of the Twenty First Century
                Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, 47 U.S.C. 615c, and
                section 506(a) of the Repack Airways Yielding Better Access for Users
                of Modern Services Act of 2018 (RAY BAUM's Act).
                VI. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
                 51. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as
                amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory
                Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact
                on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules
                proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding.
                Written public comments are requested on this IRFA, including comments
                on any alternatives. Comments must be identified as responses to the
                IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments as specified in
                the NPRM.
                A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules
                 52. The NPRM proposes steps to safeguard and improve transmission
                of life-saving 911, Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency
                Alert (WEA) messages and other life-saving information during
                emergencies by improving the reliability, resiliency, and continuity of
                associated communications networks. More specifically, the Notice of
                Proposed Rulemaking:
                 Considers whether elements of the Wireless Network
                Resiliency Cooperative Framework (Framework)--a voluntary agreement
                developed by the wireless industry in 2016 to provide mutual aid in the
                event of a disaster--could be improved to enhance the reliability of
                communication networks, including by inquiring into whether the public
                would benefit from codifying some or all of the Framework into the
                Commission's rules.
                 Seeks comment on how the Commission can better promote
                situational awareness during disasters through its Disaster Information
                Reporting System (DIRS) and Network Outage Reporting System (NORS).
                (Henceforth, the term ``nation's service providers'' will refer
                collectively to this group of entities.).
                 Explores communications resilience strategies to address
                one of the primary reasons for service disruptions: Electric power
                outages, including through an exploration of backup power
                implementations.
                 53. These proposals are made against the backdrop of Hurricane Ida,
                which hit the United States as a Category 4 hurricane in August 2021
                and caused significant flooding and damage in several states along the
                southern and northeastern corridors of the United States. Hurricane
                Ida, as well as recent hurricane and wildfire seasons, earthquakes in
                Puerto Rico, and severe winter storms in Texas demonstrate that
                America's communications infrastructure remains susceptible to
                disruption during disasters. These disruptions can prevent the
                transmission of 911 calls, first responder communications, EAS and WEA
                messages, and other potentially life-saving information. They also can
                have cascading detrimental effects on the economy and other critical
                infrastructures due to interdependencies among sectors, including the
                transportation, medical, and financial sectors, among others.
                Importantly, these disruptions may involve any or all communications
                networks--including wireline, wireless, cable, satellite, or broadcast
                facilities.
                B. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which
                the Proposed Rules Will Apply
                 54. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where
                feasible, and estimate of the number of small entities that may be
                affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines
                the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms
                ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental
                jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same
                meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business
                Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned
                and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3)
                satisfies any additional criteria
                [[Page 61112]]
                established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Below is a list
                of such entities.
                 Interconnected VoIP services;
                 Wireline Providers;
                 Wireless Providers--Fixed and Mobile;
                 Satellite Service Providers; and
                 Cable Service Providers.
                C. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other
                Compliance Requirements for Small Entities
                 55. We expect the potential rules in the NPRM will impose new or
                additional reporting or recordkeeping and/or other compliance
                obligations on service providers in the following ways:
                 Wireless Resiliency Framework. Any providers that are
                required to participate in elements of the Framework who do not already
                do so, potentially including smaller wireless providers and entities
                beyond the mobile-wireless industry, such as facilities-based backhaul
                providers, covered 911 service providers, cable, wireline, broadcast,
                satellite, or interconnected VoIP providers would potentially need to
                keep records related to roaming agreements, mutual aid agreements,
                preparedness and restoration plans, improving consumer readiness and
                preparation and improving public awareness and stakeholder
                communications on service and restoration status. These providers would
                potentially have to submit reports to the Commission detailing
                implementation of the Framework in real time or in the aftermath of a
                disaster.
                 NORS and DIRS. Any providers subject to DIRS reporting and
                new requirements related to NORS reporting, potentially including cable
                providers, Direct Broadcast Satellite providers, Satellite Digital
                Audio Radio Service, TV and radio broadcasters, Commercial Mobile Radio
                Service and other wireless service providers, wireline providers, VoIP
                providers, and broadband service providers, would report their
                communications outage information in NORS when their outages exceed
                thresholds specified in the Commission's Part 4 rules and
                infrastructure status information in DIRS when the Commission activates
                DIRS in geographic areas in which they broadcast or otherwise provide
                service.
                 Backup Power. To the extent that the Commission were to
                adopt backup power requirements, any Public Safety Answering Points
                (PSAPs) or providers subject to them, potentially including cable
                providers, Direct Broadcast Satellite providers, Satellite Digital
                Audio Radio Service, TV and radio broadcasters, Commercial Mobile Radio
                Service and other wireless service providers, wireline providers, and
                VoIP providers, could potentially be required to take steps to make
                their networks more resilient to power outages, as discussed in the
                NPRM.
                 56. The NPRM seeks comment on a number of aspects of these
                proposals, including which providers should be subject to them, the
                public safety benefits and costs associated with a provider's
                implementation of the Framework, DIRS and NORS reporting, and backup
                power resiliency improvements. Given that these elements are currently
                unknown pending comment, the Commission is presently unable to quantify
                the costs of compliance with rules associated with these proposals, and
                whether small entities will need to hire professionals to comply.
                However, given that each proposal would make more reliable the
                transmission of 911 calls, first responder communications, EAS and WEA
                messages, and other potentially life-saving information, we tentatively
                conclude that the benefits exceed the costs of implementing any of
                these proposals. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion and urge
                commenters to provide detailed information in support of their
                comments.
                D. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the
                Proposed Rules
                 57. None.
                Federal Communications Commission.
                Katura Jackson,
                Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
                [FR Doc. 2021-23811 Filed 11-4-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
                

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