Copps on Promoting a More Resilient and Reliable 9-1-1- System
COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPSRe:
Proposed Extension of Part 4 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Outage Reporting to
Interconnected Voice Over Internet Protocol Service Providers and Broadband Internet
Service Providers, PS Docket No. 11-82
Today we launch an important inquiry that recognizes the changing landscape of
communications and its role in public safety, and in so doing we take another step toward
fulfilling the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan. We're reminded again in recent
weeks how critical communications are in times of crisis. Increasingly, we rely on IP-based
services to make our emergency calls and to obtain critical information. A significant portion of
our residential phone connections more than a quarter, we are told are now using
interconnected VoIP, so there is no question just how much VoIP and broadband are on the front
lines to protect citizens in this dangerous Twenty-first century world we all live in. Today's item
addresses these changes.
Our current rules limited to traditional voice services have enabled critical outage
analysis that in turn promotes industry best practices that ultimately or at least hopefully have
led to fewer outages. So we salute past and ongoing industry efforts, knowing that service
providers are concerned about the reliability and security of their most cutting-edge networks. To
that end, I look forward to learning more about what they are doing on their own.
Today's item acknowledges the unique characteristics of these networks, and proposes to
tailor outage reporting rules to those characteristics. While it's true that IP is designed to be
"fault tolerant," we can and have seen outages that affect hundreds of thousands of people for
hours at a time. So, in addition to network operators, I look forward to hearing from other
stakeholders, including the public safety community, on where we should set the triggers for
Finally, this is not the first time that we have considered the ancillary authority route to
take important steps to protect users of these services. I would be remiss if I didn't say this is not
my preferred approach, and I hope that one day soon the Commission will look more broadly at
the proper classification of Voice over Internet Protocol. Our charge to protect the safety of the
American people is clear and should never have to hinge on semantics or distinctions without a
difference. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that we will be able to find the support we need to take the
necessary steps in this critical arena.
I want to thank the Chairman and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for
bringing us this Notice. It shows that we take seriously our charge as an agency with significant
public safety responsibilities.
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