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Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies

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Released: May 4, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 11-55

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Reliability and Continuity of Communications
)
PS Docket No. 11-60
Networks, Including Broadband Technologies
)
)

Effects on Broadband Communications Networks
)
PS Docket No. 10-92
of Damage or Failure of Network Equipment or
)
Severe Overload
)
)

Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of
)
EB Docket No. 06-119
Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks
)

NOTICE OF INQUIRY

Adopted: April 7, 2011

Released: April 7, 2011

Comment Date: July 7, 2011
Reply Comment Date: September 1, 2011

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and
Baker issuing separate statements.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 7
III. NOTICE OF INQUIRY........................................................................................................................ 14
A. Continuity of Service ..................................................................................................................... 15
B. Reliability and Resiliency .............................................................................................................. 27
C. Action by the Commission............................................................................................................. 43
D. Legal Authority.............................................................................................................................. 49
IV. PROPOSED TERMINATION OF RELATED PROCEEDINGS ....................................................... 51
V. CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................... 52
VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS................................................................................................................ 53
A. Ex Parte Presentations.................................................................................................................... 53
B. Comment Filing Procedures........................................................................................................... 54
C. Accessible Formats ........................................................................................................................ 55
VII.ORDERING CLAUSE ......................................................................................................................... 56

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I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
By this Notice of Inquiry ("Notice"), we seek comment on a broad range of issues
regarding the reliability and resiliency of our Nation's communications networks. Specifically, we
consolidate several lines of inquiry broadly derived from initiatives set forth in the National Broadband
Plan ("NBP")1 regarding the reliability and continuity of our Nation's communications infrastructure,
including broadband networks. Among other matters, the NBP identified the inadequacy of backup
power and insufficient communications backhaul redundancy as key factors that contribute to the
congestion or failure of commercial wireless data networks, particularly during emergencies such as
large-scale natural and man-made disasters.2 The NBP also recommended that the Commission engage in
an exploration of the reliability and resiliency standards being applied to broadband networks in order to
ascertain what action, if any, the Commission should take to bolster the reliability of broadband
infrastructures.3
2.
In this Notice, we initiate a comprehensive examination of issues regarding the reliability,
resiliency and continuity of communications networks, including broadband technologies. First, we
explore the ability of communications networks to provide continuity of service during major
emergencies, such as large-scale natural and man-made disasters. Next, we consider issues related to
broadband network reliability and resiliency in the context of whether standards might be needed to
ensure adequate levels of service to meet public safety and other critical infrastructure needs. Third, we
discuss what actions, if any, the Commission should take to foster improved performance with respect to
the reliability and continuity of operations. Fourth, we seek comment on the sources of legal authority
that could provide the basis for Commission action. Finally, we seek comment on whether, for the
reasons discussed below, we should consolidate two of the above-captioned proceedings -- PS Docket 10-
92 (Effects on Broadband Communications Networks of Damage or Failure of Network Equipment or
Severe Overload),
and EB Docket 06-119 (Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina
on Communications Networks
-- into this proceeding. Were we to consolidate these proceedings into this
Notice, we seek comment on whether we should then terminate those two proceedings. If we decide to
terminate those proceedings, we would consider the record in those proceedings, to the extent relevant, in
this proceeding.
3.
We address the matters raised herein against the backdrop of today's increasingly
interconnected world, one in which communications services, including broadband technologies, play a
critical role in all segments of our Nation's society and economy. As the communications infrastructure
migrates from older technologies to broadband technology, critical communications services will be
carried over a communications network infrastructure that may or may not be built to the high carrier
grade4 standards of legacy wireline systems. This potential for differences in service reliability could be a
major source of concern for critical sectors, such as energy and public safety, and for consumers in
general.


1 Omnibus Broadband Initiative, Federal Communications Commission, Connecting America: The National
Broadband Plan
("NBP") (Mar. 2010).
2 NBP, Chapter 12 ("Energy and the Environment"), Section 12.1 ("Broadband and the Smart Grid").
3
NBP, Chapter 16 ("Public Safety"), Section 16.2 ("Promoting Cybersecurity and Protecting Critical
Infrastructure").
4 Although not a precise term of art in the telecommunications field, "carrier grade" generally refers to systems,
hardware, or software that are extremely reliable, well tested, and proven in their capabilities.
2

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4.
Businesses rely on communications to conduct financial and other transactions, and
hospitals and healthcare providers rely on communications services to provide medical care. Government
agencies, at all levels, rely on communications services to ensure the safety of the public and to provide
other services, while power companies and other utilities use communications services for their
operations and to deploy energy-efficient technologies. Many of these sectors are becoming increasingly
reliant on broadband-based technologies. For example, power companies are looking to broadband
technologies as they begin to deploy Smart Grid.5 Hospitals and healthcare providers can leverage
broadband technologies for video consultation, remote patient monitoring, and better access to electronic
healthcare records.6
Financial institutions use broadband technology to clear large volumes of
transactions to keep the economy running efficiently. Moreover, consumers increasingly are relying on
broadband platforms in addition to, or in place of, legacy platforms for voice communications.7
5.
Thus, it is vital that our Nation maintains a communications network that offers reliable
and resilient service in the face of significant equipment or system failure, and which is sufficiently
survivable to provide some continuity of service during major emergencies, regardless of whether the
network is legacy or broadband-based. This is critically important in emergencies that occur during major
natural or man-made disasters, including terrorist attacks, when access to communications services
increasingly becomes a matter of life or death. People dialing 9-1-1, whether using legacy or broadband-
based networks, must be able to reach emergency personnel for assistance; and when networks dedicated
to public safety become unavailable, first responders must have access to commercial communications,
including broadband technologies, to coordinate their rescue and recovery efforts. Hospitals require
reliable communications to provide emergency medical care. Other critical infrastructure providers, such
as power companies, must have reliable communications services to aid in their own repair and
restoration efforts. Finally, organizations and individuals alike must have access to communications
services to reach emergency responders during and following a major disaster. Individuals must also
have some way to contact affected family members and loved ones.
6.
By commencing this inquiry today, we seek to establish a dialog with all interested
stakeholders, including network operators and other communications service providers; public safety and
other Federal, state, tribal, territorial and local governmental agencies; hospitals and healthcare providers;
consumers; and other critical infrastructure providers, such as utility companies. We believe that these
efforts will serve the public interest by establishing a foundation for future initiatives designed to
maximize reliable and resilient communications for the benefit of all Americans, particularly with respect
to public safety and national security concerns.

II.

BACKGROUND

7.
In recent years, the Commission has engaged in several efforts involving the overall
reliability and resiliency of the Nation's telecommunications and broadband network infrastructure.
8.
Two ongoing efforts of note include the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and


5 See, e.g., Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies, United States Department of Energy,
October 5, 2010 ("DOE Smart Grid Report"), available at:
http://www.gc.energy.gov/documents/Smart_Grid_Communications_Requirements_Report_10-05-2010.pdf

6 See NBP, Chapter 10, "Health Care."
7 See, e.g., NBP, Chapter 3 ("Current State of the Broadband Ecosystem"); see also Preserving the Open Internet,
Broadband Industry Practices, GN Docket No. 09-191, WC Docket No. 07-52, Report and Order, 25 FCC Rcd
17905, 17916 22 (2010).
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the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). In operation since 2004, NORS is a mandatory
information reporting system that collects service outage information filed primarily by voice and paging
communications providers subject to Part 4 of our Rules.8 Through analysis of these reports, the
Commission looks for trends that could identify systemic weaknesses in our Nation's communications
infrastructure and attempts to identify patterns and explore potential solutions concerning the underlying
causes of significant network outages. DIRS is a voluntary, web-based system activated on a case-by-
case basis that communications providers can use to report communications infrastructure status and
situational awareness during times of crisis.9
9.
More recently, in March 2010, the NBP was released with a goal of ensuring that every
American has access to broadband capability particularly in underserved areas.10 Among other matters,
the NBP addressed issues broadly related to critical infrastructure preparedness and survivability, and
recommended that the Commission investigate the resiliency and reliability standards of communications
networks, particularly broadband networks.11 In this regard, it identified the twin issues of inadequate
backup power and insufficient communications backhaul redundancy as significant factors that have been
shown to impair the reliability of commercial networks for mission-critical control applications.12 The
NBP also recommended that the Commission explore the reliability and resiliency standards being
applied to broadband networks to ascertain what action, if any, the Commission should take to bolster the
reliability of broadband infrastructures.13 Furthermore, the NBP recommended that the Commission
explore the survivability of commercial broadband communications networks to determine whether
commercial communications service providers, including broadband providers, have adequate measures
in place to maintain operations during major emergencies.14
10.
In April 2010, in response to recommendations in the NBP,15 the Commission adopted a
Notice of Inquiry ("Survivability Notice") concerning the survivability of broadband communications
networks.16 In the Survivability Notice, the Commission sought comment on the impact of direct physical


8 Providers subject to the Part 4 outage reporting rules include those providing voice or paging services using
wireline, wireless, cable, or satellite facilities. See 47 C.F.R. Part 4, "Disruptions to Communications."
9 Examples include information on the status of broadcast facilities (AM, FM, and TV), cable television, wireless
cell sites by county, wireline and wireless facilities, and others.
10 The NBP includes a detailed strategy for achieving affordability and maximizing use of broadband to advance
consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care
delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, employee training, private sector investment,
entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purposes. See NBP at XI.
11 See NBP, Chapter 16, Recommendation 16.12.
12 See NBP at 251. More specifically, it addressed the potential reliance on commercial network data
communications for Smart Grid and other power technologies and stated that the lack of mission-critical wide-area
broadband networks capable of meeting the requirements of the Smart Grid threatens to delay the implementation of
such technologies.
13
NBP, Chapter 16 ("Public Safety"), Section 16.2 ("Promoting Cybersecurity and Protecting Critical
Infrastructure").
14 Id. at Recommendation 12.1 (cross-referencing Chapter 16 "Public Safety").
15 See NBP, Recommendation 16.10.
16 In the Matter of Effects on Broadband Communications Networks of Damage to or Failure of Network Equipment
or Severe Overload
, Notice of Inquiry, PS Docket No. 10-92 ("Survivability Notice"), 25 FCC Rcd 4333 (2010).
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damage and severe overload to broadband communications networks. Several commenters raised
concerns about the reliability of commercial communications systems during major emergencies and
expressed support for the Commission's examination of the backup power issue.17 Other commenters
stated that communications network providers adequately engineer and manage their networks to ensure
survivability and redundancy on their own initiative, and that, apart from fostering voluntary industry
efforts toward improvement, there is no need for regulatory intervention by the Commission.18
11.
In February 2011, in a somewhat different context, the Commission adopted a Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking ("Form 477 NPRM") that seeks comment on modernizing its Form 477 data
program.19 Established in 2000, Form 477 is the Commission's primary tool for collecting data about
broadband and local telephone networks and services.20
The form presently requires providers of
broadband service, local telephone service, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service,
and mobile telephone service to report the number of subscribers they have in their respective service
areas.21
Among other matters, the Form 477 NPRM seeks comment on whether additional data
collections relating to service quality and customer satisfaction are necessary to fulfill the Commission's
goals.22 More specifically, this part of the Form 477 NPRM focuses on retrospective data at a macro level
regarding matters such as network downtime; the number of trouble reports or customer complaints
regarding network performance or degradation; complaints regarding service provider customer care and
billing; installation and repair intervals; and general customer satisfaction.23 The Notice we adopt today,
by comparison, takes a distinct, but complementary, approach to addressing reliability and resiliency
concerns by focusing in a more granular fashion on prophylactic technical and procedural measures that
might prospectively improve performance in these areas.
12.
In January 2006, the Commission established the Independent Panel Reviewing the
Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks ("Katrina Panel" or "Panel").24 The Katrina
Panel
was charged with reviewing the impact of Hurricane Katrina on all sectors of the
telecommunications and media industries, including public safety communications. The Katrina Panel


17 See, e.g., various comments and reply comments filed in response to the Survivability Notice, including Initial
Comments of Edison Electric Institute (filed June 25, 2010); Reply Comments of Utilities Telecom Council (filed
Sept. 7, 2010); Reply Comments of Southern Company Services, Inc. (filed Sept. 7, 2010); Reply Comments of
National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (filed Sept. 7, 2010); and Reply Comments of Financial
Services Sector Coordinating Council (filed Sept. 8, 2010).
18 See, e.g., Initial Comments of AT&T and of Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), filed on
June 26, 2010.
19 In the Matter of Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program, FCC 11-14, WC Docket No. 11-10; 07-38,
adopted Feb. 8, 2011 ("Form 477 NPRM").
20 Local Competition and Broadband Reporting, CC Docket No. 99-301, Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 7717,
7718, 1 (2000).
21 Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Reporting, Report and Order, WC Docket No. 04-141, 19 FCC Rcd
22340, 22342-43, para. 3 (2004).
22 See Form 477 NPRM, FCC 11-14, at 89-99.
23 See id. at 98.
24 Notice of Establishment of the Commission's Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on
Communications Networks
, 71 Fed. Reg. 933 (2006) ("Katrina Panel").
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released its report ("Katrina Panel Report" or "Katrina Report") on June 12, 2006.25 The Katrina Report
identified a lack of power or fuel to maintain operation of portions of the telecommunications system as a
significant concern. The report also cited flooding and backhaul failure as two other primary contributors
to the majority of telecommunications network disruptions.26
13.
In 2007, acting on the findings of the Katrina Panel, the Commission issued an Order
("Katrina Panel Order") directing the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau ("PSHSB") to
implement several recommendations of the Panel.27 Among other actions, the Commission adopted rules
requiring communications providers to ensure a minimum level of backup power capability to maintain
network operations for a period of time after the failure of commercial power sources.28 These rules,
which were the subject of judicial challenge by several wireless providers, never took effect and were
ultimately vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) after
the Commission communicated its intent to the court to revise them in further rulemaking proceedings.29

III.

NOTICE OF INQUIRY

14.
In the following paragraphs, we discuss continuity of service during emergencies, as well
as the reliability and resiliency of communications networks, including broadband technologies. We also
explore options for possible action by the Commission and the sources of legal authority for any such
action if the Commission were to decide to act. We also seek an analysis of the costs and benefits of the
various matters raised in this inquiry. Thus, we ask commenters to address particularly the following
concerns with respect to the numerous issues raised: What are the cost and benefits associated with any
potential courses of action? How could any requirements the Commission might consider be tailored to
impose the least amount of burden on those affected? What potential regulatory approaches (including
market-based approaches such as permits and fees) would maximize the potential net benefits to society
(benefits net of costs)? To the extent feasible, what explicit performance objectives should the


25 Independent Panel Reviewing Impact Of Hurricane Katrina On Communications Networks, Report And
Recommendations To The Federal Communications Commission
(2006) ("Katrina Panel Report"), available at
https://www.fcc.gov/pshs/docs/advisory/hkip/karrp.pdf.
26 Id.
27 In the Matter of Recommendations of the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on
Communications Networks
, Order, 22 FCC Rcd. 10541, 10565 (2007) ("Katrina Panel Order"), on recon., 22 FCC
Rcd 18013 (2007), vacated, CTIA v. FCC, Nos. 07-1475 et al. (Order dated July 31, 2009).
28 See 47 C.F.R. 12.2, et seq. (2007) ("Redundancy of Communications Systems").
29 The Commission had provided that the rules would not take effect until the agency had published notice of
approval from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") under the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C.
3501 et seq.) of the rules' information collections. After the wireless petitioners filed their petitions for review
challenging the backup power requirements, the D.C. Circuit issued an Order stating that the consolidated cases
were not ripe for review and holding them in abeyance pending OMB's action. CTIA The Wireless Association v.
FCC
, 530 F.3d 984, 986, 989 (D.C. Cir. 2008). OMB disapproved the information collection, see Office of Mgmt.
& Budget, Executive Office of the President, Notice of Office of Mgmt. & Budget Action (2008), available at
http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=200802-3060-019, and the Commission decided not to
exercise its authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act to override the disapproval, see 44 U.S.C. 3507(f)(1).
Instead, the Commission filed a letter with the court stating its intent to revise the subject rules and requesting that
the court dismiss the consolidated cases as moot. Letter from Nandan M. Joshi, Counsel for FCC, to Mark Langer,
Clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Dec. 3, 2008). In an unpublished opinion,
the court ordered the petitions for review be dismissed as moot and vacated the challenged rules. CTIA The
Wireless Association v. FCC
, No. 07-1475 (D.C. Cir. filed July 31, 2009).
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Commission specify to facilitate monitoring the success of any potential course of action?

A.

Continuity of Service

15.
Overview. It is critical that our Nation have access to reliable and resilient
communications networks, especially during times of major emergencies, such as large-scale natural and
man-made disasters. As noted above, various reports and comments we have received in other
proceedings have raised concerns that commercial communications networks may not be sufficiently
reliable in such circumstances.30
16.
In light of these concerns, we seek detailed information regarding any factors that
significantly contribute to disruptions in communications service during major emergencies. We also
seek comment on existing industry standards or practices that address these matters. We seek information
on what preparatory or preventive measures are presently, or should be, taken by communications service
providers to ensure that communications are maintained during major emergencies. We invite comment
on the benefits and disadvantages of potential solutions to ensure continuity of service. We also seek
comment on how the benefits of any regulatory requirements might be quantified, as well as on the cost
of implementing such solutions, who would bear the cost, and how. Our objective is to evaluate existing
industry standards and practices and to determine what actions, if any, the Commission should take to
ensure that the public continues to have access to communications during major emergencies.
17.
Discussion. We recognize that the ability of communications providers to continue
operation during major emergencies is affected by many complex considerations. Lack of backup power
and inadequate backhaul redundancy have already been identified as two leading factors. We address
these two concerns in greater detail below. However, to consider the entire ecosystem of relevant factors,
we begin with a more general inquiry. Specifically, we ask commenters to provide detailed information
about any other factors the Commission should consider in this proceeding in addition to the concerns just
mentioned. What is the precise nature of these other factors? Under what circumstances do they arise?
What approaches does industry follow to avoid or mitigate them?
18.
For example, the Katrina Panel Report found that lack of access to carrier sites located
within disaster areas was a major issue impacting the ability of carriers to restore communications
following Hurricane Katrina.31 Since then, the Federal government and various states, particularly in the
Gulf region, have taken steps to address this issue.32 We seek comment on whether communications
service providers have seen improvement in their ability to restore communications during recent
hurricanes and other events. If not, what approaches could be taken to alleviate such problems in the
future?


30 See id. See also DOE Smart Grid Report, supra n. 2; Katrina Panel Report at 5, et seq.
31 This was particularly problematic during the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina and severely limited access
to affected sites. See Katrina Panel Report, supra note 8, at 1517.
32 For example, the Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has worked with the Department
of Homeland Security and the Gulf States on this issue as instructed by the Commission in the Katrina Panel
proceeding, and it is our understanding that some states now have written plans in place to allow access to carrier
sites during and after emergencies. We further note that the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006
("Safe Port Act") includes a section amending the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
("Stafford Act") (42 U.S.C. 5170) by adding to the end of the Stafford Act provisions designed to promote greater
access to disaster sites by an "essential service provider," which is defined as an entity that provides
telecommunications service (or other utilities such as electric, water, sewer, and natural gas). See Safe Port Act,
Pub. L. 109-347, Title VI, 607, 120 Stat 1884, 1941-1942.
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19.
The Katrina Panel Report also found that flooding was another significant factor that
impeded the ability of carriers to restore communications. We seek comment on the lessons learned in
this regard since the Katrina Panel Report. For example, what, if any, preventive approaches to mitigate
flooding have been identified? Which ones have been adopted or implemented by industry? What is the
specific technical nature of these approaches? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What are
the costs associated with these approaches? What additional measures could be taken to avoid or mitigate
flood damage that could disrupt communications services? How would they be implemented? By
whom?
20.
We are also interested in gathering information about any other factors that have an
impact on the ability to maintain or restore communications operations, including those which might be
unique to specific circumstances. For example, which of these factors might be more significant with
respect to smaller carriers, carriers serving rural areas, or those serving tribal lands? Similarly, what
factors might be unique to broadband networks or to satellite systems and networks? Are there sufficient
numbers of properly trained technical personnel to deploy over widespread disaster areas, and if not, is
this a factor in not being able to maintain or restore operation of communications networks during
emergencies? To what extent do these issues apply to communications infrastructure in geographically
remote locations? Do communications service providers have contingency plans in place if key personnel
are unavailable to respond to a situation, and if so, how are such contingency plans implemented? We
invite commenters to address these and any other relevant factors.
21.
Furthermore, we seek comment on any standards and best practices that presently exist in
the industry regarding the provision of service during major emergencies. Who has developed these
standards and best practices? What do they cover? Are they enforceable, and if so, how? What are the
advantages, disadvantages, and costs of any such provisions? Are there other matters that are not covered
by these standards and best practices that should be addressed, why, and how? We also seek information
on any standards and best practices that network operators have developed to use in-house. Does the
commercial communications sector make trade-offs during major disasters between network coverage
and capacity? If so, what are the trade-offs? What would be the effect on capacity if a carrier gives
priority to maintaining most of its radio frequency (RF) coverage footprint? How, and by whom, should
access to communications infrastructure be managed in times of disaster? Who should be able to access
what resources and in what quantities? What standards and best practices have other countries, Federal
agencies, and state, tribal, territorial, or local governments developed that might prove useful here? We
ask commenters to address any other significant considerations with respect to industry standards and
practices, including any evolving trends and industry initiatives addressing the avoidance or mitigation of
service disruptions in major emergencies.
22.
With respect to preparatory and preventive measures, we invite commenters to provide
details about measures industry presently uses to maintain or restore communications during emergencies,
including their advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits. How could such measures be
employed most effectively? We particularly seek comment on what approaches would be best suited to
activate emergency service continuity remotely for a period of time when direct human access to a site
might not be possible during an emergency. How could standards and definitions for critical commercial
communications infrastructure be aligned with similar performance objectives for dedicated public safety
systems within a region? What mechanisms would provide the best opportunity to achieve such
alignment? What would be the relative advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits of such an
approach?
23.
Backup Power. We seek comment on how various backup power techniques or
performance standards could or should be employed to ensure adequate levels of service continuity during
major emergencies. Is there a need for specific backup power requirements? If the Commission were to
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find there is a need for specific backup power requirements, what standards should it, or should it not,
specify and why? Should the Commission specify minimum requirements for the duration of backup
power capacity? Should the Commission consider adopting refueling requirements or standards for
generators that may lack adequate standalone fuel capacity for the duration of a disaster? If the
Commission were to find there is a need for specific backup power requirements, should they be uniform
for all communications service providers or should there be different levels of backup for different
services based upon other factors? If so, what factors should the Commission consider? For example,
under what circumstances should backup power solutions be designed to maintain communications
service throughout an entire service area or up to a certain percentage of a service area? What service
levels should communications service providers maintain during such times and how would those levels
be achieved? What criteria should the Commission use to determine which sites require backup power?
Should backup power solutions be designed to maintain all types of communications; voice-only
communications; text and video communications; telecommunications relay services, to ensure access by
people with hearing or speech disabilities; and/or critical communications services such as 9-1-1 services
and communications that support emergency response? Should the duration and level of quality of
service requirements vary depending on whether the communications assets are located in areas more
prone to disaster (e.g., Gulf Coast, West Coast)?
24.
We note that, in the years since Hurricane Katrina, there have been many developments
in back-up power technology. For example, cell sites have been designed to operate with lower power
consumption, placing less of a strain on available sources of back-up power. Furthermore, solar cell
technology has advanced and may be a viable option for back-up powering applications. To what extent
are technologies like this in use today and how do they affect the ability of communications service
providers to maintain service during power outages? Will such advances in back-up power technologies
overtake traditional solutions like batteries and generators? If so, what steps, if any, would facilitate their
adoption, and when should we expect such advances in back-up power technologies to overtake
traditional solutions? How should the Commission consider these emerging technologies for the purposes
of this inquiry?
25.
We also seek comment on potential challenges to deploying backup power solutions. For
example, during the Katrina Panel proceeding, carriers cited zoning and environmental laws and
processes as major impediments to implementing certain backup power solutions.33
Others noted
restrictions in private leasing agreements.34 In what manner do these potential impediments, or other
related issues, present challenges to the deployment of backup power solutions? What other factors either
encourage or discourage network operators from implementing backup power solutions? For example, to
what extent is the cost of adopting adequate backup power solutions a factor, and how would this cost be
borne? What challenges to deploying backup power solutions might be unique to small carriers or those
serving rural parts of the country or tribal lands?
26.
Backhaul Redundancy. As noted above, the Katrina Panel Report found that inadequate
backhaul redundancy also plays a significant role in contributing to service disruptions during major
emergencies. We ask commenters to address in detail whether and how this factor can impair operation
of communications networks during major emergencies. What necessary services or key equipment (i.e.,
master control stations, master clocks and network time servers) would severely degrade or cause wireless


33 See In the Matter of Recommendations of the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on
Communications Networks
, Order on Reconsideration, 22 FCC Rcd 18013, 18021 (2007) ("Katrina Panel Order On
Reconsideration
").
34 See id.
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and wireline networks to be unavailable in the absence of backhaul redundancy? What are the relative
advantages and disadvantages of different backhaul technologies in terms of technical feasibility and cost
effectiveness? For example, what are the relative merits of microwave backhaul versus fiber with respect
to capacity, cost, and vulnerability, and how would the merits of each vary with respect to aerial or buried
plans in different types of terrain? What relative resiliency and reliability characteristics would these or
other technologies have in different emergency situations, such as loss of primary grid power or major
physical damage to network equipment or other infrastructure? How can the Commission ensure
backhaul redundancy across multiple providers and companies when many communications service
providers lease backhaul facilities from other companies?

B.

Reliability and Resiliency

27.
Overview. Wireline communications networks have traditionally been designed and
deployed to achieve carrier grade reliability in normal operation using a combination of highly failure
resistant equipment and dedicated end-to-end connections. As such, major components in the network
core, such as switches, are typically designed to meet downtime objectives not exceeding two minutes per
year.35 Wireline communications service providers also achieve very fast fault recovery times overall
through heavy reliance on redundancy and automatic switchover throughout the network.
By
comparison, the Internet is based on Internet protocol (IP) technology which does not rely on such
dedicated end-to-end connections. While this "connectionless" approach of IP theoretically offers a
degree of built-in fault tolerance and resiliency to network failures, these benefits will not be fully
realized if the underlying network infrastructure itself is not reliable on a network-wide scale. Moreover,
as discussed more fully below, modified IP technology, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS),
is now widely deployed in broadband communications networks. It is unclear at this time what effect
such modifications might have, either positive or negative, on the overall reliability and resiliency of
broadband communications over IP-based networks.
28.
At the same time, three major industry sectors are converging on ever more extensive use
of broadband technologies: public safety, commercial communications, and utilities. As a result of this
convergence, consumers of communications services at all levels may be generally unaware of the
technological platform used to deliver their communications services; however, they typically expect the
same level of service and service reliability regardless of the platform. Furthermore, as our
communications infrastructure migrates from older technologies to IP-based broadband technology, there
are concerns that critical communications services are more likely to be carried over a communications
network that in fact might not possess the same high reliability standards as legacy wireline networks.
This potential for a decline in service reliability and resiliency is a source of concern for critical sectors
such as public safety, energy, and finance, as well as for the general public.36 Our objective in this
discussion is to determine what action, if any, the Commission should take to bolster the reliability of our
Nation's broadband communications platform. We therefore invite comment on whether or how the
Commission should establish performance goals for resilient broadband networks under different
scenarios.37 We seek comment on the benefits and disadvantages of various approaches to ensuring
reliable and resilient service. We also invite comment on the cost of implementing such performance
goals and how such expenses would be borne. Moreover, we seek comment on what lessons, if any, the


35 This exceeds what is colloquially known as "five nines" availability in the industry. This refers to 99.999%
availability, or unavailability of 0.001%.
36 See NBP at 322, Recommendation 16.12.
37 In legacy networks, for example, every node has a performance objective contributing to overall end-to-end
reliability. Resilient networks, therefore, tolerate failure while maintaining an overall performance goal.
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Commission can learn from efforts at the state and local levels, as well as in other countries, to ensure
reliable and resilient service.
29.
Discussion. As an initial matter, we seek comment on whether one can safely assume
that key elements of the Internet, such as its transport layer protocols and electronic equipment, when
functioning as a whole, can offer the same carrier grade standards as legacy wireline systems under
mission-critical conditions. For example, while carriers can use data retransmission and rerouting
strategies to address certain network hardware reliability and resiliency problems, some transport
protocols used to support quality of service in broadband networks do not take full advantage of these
techniques.38 In the rest of this section, we seek comment on both equipment and protocol-related issues
that can compromise the reliability and resiliency of broadband networks for critical communications
purposes.
30.
Equipment Reliability. We seek comment on the nature of existing reliability standards
used in the industry for critical components like top-level DNS servers, edge routers, gateway routers,
core routers, and the like. Who promulgates and enforces such standards or practices? Are they
voluntary or mandatory? Are these standards and practices adequate to address the reliability and
resiliency concerns discussed here? Do manufacturers presently provide adequate estimates of relevant
reliability data for major pieces of equipment that they develop? If not, should they be required to do so?
Going forward, what kinds of equipment that are not presently covered by adequate reliability
performance standards or best practices should be subject to such requirements?
31.
We also seek comment on the parameters that existing standards or practices generally
address. For example, do existing standards and practices apply downtime objectives or other reliability
standards to major pieces of equipment in broadband networks? One source indicates that carrier class
routers may be expected to have downtimes of less than 5.3 minutes per year.39 To what extent does this
downtime objective represent typical core routers in broadband networks? To what extent, if any, should
the Commission apply downtime objectives to DNS servers, gateway routers, or other similarly critical
equipment? If the Commission were to adopt downtime objectives or other reliability standards, what
should they be? Alternatively, should the Commission set overall service goals, so that, for example,
redundancy in the network would prevent a DNS service disruption if any ISP-operated DNS server went
down?
32.
Protocol Issues. We seek comment on how the particular characteristics of any given
protocol could impair or enhance reliability for critical communications. We particularly seek comment
on whether, and the extent to which, some protocols might be designed to emphasize one performance
aspect, while inadvertently losing the ability to take full advantage of other intrinsic IP rerouting and
retransmission features that could enhance overall reliability. Are there such trade-offs, and if so, how
can they be identified? What metrics could be used to quantify the impact of such protocols on overall
network reliability?
33.
Many broadband providers have moved to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to
facilitate creating "virtual links" between distant nodes as a way to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) for


38 Transmission Control Protocol, for example, makes use of data retransmission, which improves reliability; while
other protocols, such as User Datagram Protocol, might not. Various services may use either of these, or other,
protocols, each having different characteristics.
39 See Understanding High Availability of IP and MPLS Networks, available at:
http://www.ciscopress.com/articles/article.asp?p=361409&seqNum=4.
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broadband services.40 Could such virtual links between distant nodes compromise some of the built-in
resiliency features of IP, and if so, how? To what extent, if any, might broadband services be less
resilient to network equipment failures when MPLS or other similar protocols are used? What effects, if
any, could MPLS or similar protocols have on end-to-end availability and other reliability/resiliency
metrics?
34.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol increasingly used for controlling
multimedia communications including voice and video over IP.41 Telephony networks employing SIP
can implement many of the more advanced call processing features present in Signaling System 7 (SS7),
though the two protocols themselves are very different.42 We seek comment on how to evaluate whether
SIP and similar protocols are sufficiently reliable to provide essential or mission-critical communications.
To what extent, if any, should the Commission establish reliability objectives for networks employing SIP
and what should those objectives cover?
35.
MPLS and SIP are just two examples of protocol-related matters with potential
implications for the reliability of broadband networks. We encourage commenters to address the
reliability and resiliency implications of any other applications and protocols. For example, as 4G
technologies mature, voice communications may migrate to VoIP on a 4G platform. We seek comment
on whether VoIP operating on 4G networks would be as reliable as voice communications carried on
other platforms. Can 4G networks support mission-critical VoIP communications, or will they be able to
in the future? If so, when?
36.
We further seek comment on the role of policy-based routing in the overall integrity of
the Internet routing infrastructure. Policy-based routing is a routing protocol that makes routing decisions
contingent on business parameters such as cost. Routing decisions that are constrained in this way may or
may not be optimally resilient or reliable. To what extent do communications service providers use
policy-based routing in broadband networks? What are the costs and benefits of policy-based routing,
from the standpoint of both good business practice and network resiliency? Does the use of policy-based
routing have any effect on the resiliency of communications networks? If so, what effects, and do
communications service providers understand those effects? Does the use of policy-based routing expose
the communications infrastructure to any risks? If so, what are they and can they be mitigated?
37.
Capacity Issues. Communications networks are typically designed to handle a certain
amount of traffic during routine operation, plus some overhead capacity to accommodate higher than
normal demand. In the event of a failure of a major node, back-up nodes would ideally be designed to
handle all of the additional traffic. In reality, however, redundant equipment may not be able to handle all
of the additional traffic generated when the primary node fails.43 When the primary node fails, there can


40 John Evans & Clarence Filsfils, Deploying IP and MPLS QOS for Multiservice Networks, Theory and Practice
(Morgan, Kaufmann 2007).
41 "SIP is an application-layer control protocol that can establish, modify, and terminate multimedia sessions
(conferences) such as Internet telephony calls. SIP can also invite participants to already existing sessions, such as
multicast conferences. Media can be added to (and removed from) an existing session. SIP transparently supports
name mapping and redirection services, which supports personal mobility - users can maintain a single externally
visible identifier regardless of their network location." See SIP: Session Initiation Protocol (Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF), RFC 3261, June 2002), available at: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3261.txt.
42 Id.
43 See Jim Kennedy, The Importance of the Network in IT Disaster Recovery Planning, available at:
http://www.continuitycentral.com/feature0554.htm. After the failure of a node in a redundant pair, the other node in
the pair might be required to handle more than one hundred percent of the usual peak busy hour load, due to
development of a backlog during the period during which a processor or system has failed but not yet been taken out
(continued....)
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be bottlenecks that can seriously degrade or interrupt service. We seek comment on how system capacity
issues, or any other similar considerations, differ between public switched telephone network ("PSTN")
infrastructure and IP technology with respect to redundancy, recovery, and other relevant factors. What
best practices presently exist, and what additional best practices might be needed to address these
concerns? We note, for example, that several industry sponsored best practices already exist that address
capacity, with several specifically related to DNS servers.44 However, none of the best practices appears
to provide objective capacity requirements. Would it be beneficial to have requirements relating to the
capacity of primary and back-up paths in broadband networks? If so, what equipment in broadband
networks should have capacity requirements, and who should set these requirements? What are the
advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits to requiring equipment suppliers to test and provide
estimates of the capacity of major equipment?
38.
Cascading Overloads & Graceful System Recovery. In some circumstances, failure of
one component in a network and ironically, even the process of restarting a failed piece of equipment
can result in cascading overloads that overwhelm the entire system. For example, when a core router
fails, a large number of subscribers to a service that depends on that router may find that the service has
become extremely slow or completely unavailable. Subsequently, when the failed server is brought back
online, cascading overloads can propagate throughout the network.45
We seek comment on what
measures could be taken to ensure graceful system recovery and to avoid or mitigate vulnerability to
cascading failures. Should there be equipment safeguards to ensure restoration of service in a controlled
manner? Should there be requirements regarding the additional capacity of back-up paths to cover users
or equipment trying to reestablish service? We also ask commenters to address the advantages and
disadvantages and costs and benefits of requiring suppliers to demonstrate that their products have
sufficient overload capacity to handle such scenarios.
39.
Maintenance Procedures. One would not necessarily expect routine maintenance
procedures to be a significant source of system failures and network outages. However, it has been
reported that 20 percent of all failures on broadband networks are due to planned maintenance.46
Maintenance activities can fail for a variety of reasons, ranging from human error to the shipment of
faulty cards, to faulty fiber, to configuration errors. We seek comment on the safeguards or standards that
are already in place or should be considered, if any, to minimize service disruptions caused by procedural
errors during routine maintenance. For example, what maintenance procedures, if any, should be
followed when servicing or replacing equipment, troubleshooting software or performing Border Gateway
(Continued from previous page)


of service. Because the processor is still in service, user traffic is sent to it for processing, and because the processor
is not working, the traffic is not delivered properly to its requested destination, thus creating a backlog.
44 See, e.g., NRIC Best Practices, available at: https://www.fcc.gov/nors/outage/bestpractice/BestPractice.cfm. A
search for all NRIC Best Practices that include the word "capacity" yielded seventeen such best practices.
45 "When a router restarts, it will lose routing adjacencies or sessions with its neighbors for a particular protocol or
all protocols. Once its neighbors detect the lost adjacency they will recompute new routes and send new route
information to their neighbors. This will propagate throughout the network resulting in network-wide routing
updates (route flapping) as well as lost packets. Router performance can also degrade due to the scale of route
updates or if more than one router simultaneously restarts. During this period the restarting router cannot receive
traffic because its neighbors have cleared its previously advertised routes." See Alcatel, Router High Availability
for IP Networks "Graceful Restarts," at 5, available at: http://www.telecomreview.ca/eic/site/tprp-
gecrt.nsf/vwapj/Router_HA_for_IP.pdf/$FILE/Router_HA_for_IP.pdf.
46Athina Markopoulou, Gianluca Iannaccone, Supratik Bhattacharyya, Chen-Nee Chuah & Christophe Diot,
"Characterization of Failures in an IP Backbone," INFOCOM 2004 paper, at 1, available at http://www.ieee-
infocom.org/2004/Papers/48_1.PDF ("Our results indicate that 20% of all failures can be attributed to scheduled
network maintenance activities.").
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Protocol (BGP) updates or card restarts that reset the internal routing tables? What other procedural
safeguards, if any, would it be beneficial to follow? To what extent are such safeguards already in place,
and what best practices, if any, have been developed in this area?
40.
Single Points of Failure. The access portions of most networks generally contain single
points of failure.47 For example, in legacy telecommunications networks, only one connection exists
between the customer and the central office. As a result, the central office becomes a single point of
failure for access to the PSTN. With respect to broadband access networks, we seek comment on whether
edge routers (also known as access routers) that sit at the periphery of the network and which handle large
volumes of traffic could become single points of failure. To what extent have such vulnerabilities already
been addressed through industry standards and/or best practices? For example, what kind of standards or
best practices are being, or should be, applied to the number of diverse paths from edge router to gateway
routers? What parameters do or should these standards or best practices depend on? For example, do or
should they depend on the amount of traffic handled by the edge router or the downtime of the routes
from the edge router to the gateway router? To what extent should these standards or best practices
depend on the availability of the edge router or the gateway router?
41.
Silent Failures. Silent failures happen when a malfunction occurs in a manner that makes
it difficult to detect. Such failures could occur in instances where the monitoring system itself fails or the
monitoring processes fail to identify a failure (e.g., a DSLAM with a failed alarm). Alternatively, a
network system could not be monitored at all. We seek comment on how broadband networks could
become more resilient to silent failures. To what extent, if any, have standards or best practices been
developed to address this vulnerability? To what extent, if any, should standards be required for
broadband network operators to monitor equipment and links to detect failures as quickly as possible and
to avoid silent failures? Is there equipment in broadband networks that should be monitored on a
continual basis? For example, one network provider has found that operating a back-up system with
reserve capacity is more effective than keeping the back-up system in standby mode, as a system that is
regularly in use tends to be prepared to handle disasters more readily than a system that has been sitting
idle and unused for an extended period of time.48 Is there equipment for which the Commission should
encourage such practices? If so, how would encouraging such practices be beneficial and what would be
the costs?
42.
Other Matters. The particular issues discussed in this section are merely illustrative.
Thus, we also ask commenters to address any other technical issues not mentioned herein that could have
an adverse impact on network reliability and resiliency.

C.

Action by the Commission

43.
In connection with all of the matters discussed above, we seek comment on actions the
Commission might take to promote improvements in the overall reliability and resiliency of our Nation's
communications network infrastructure, including broadband technologies.49 For example, what role, if
any, should the Commission take to encourage the development of standards to address the issues raised
herein? If the Commission were to take a more active role to foster adoption of best practices or other


47 For example, on the customer access line, there is generally a single modem; a single copper, coax, or fiber drop;
and a single card terminating the customer's signal at the provider's office.
48 See Comments of Comcast Corporation at 5-6 (filed June 28, 2010) in the Survivability Notice proceeding.
49 While our focus here is on actions that may be taken by the Commission, we also welcome comment on what role
other Federal agencies might play and how such efforts might be coordinated with any action taken by the
Commission.
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standards, what approach, or approaches, should it take? What lessons can be learned from existing
initiatives? We also seek comment on potential barriers to implementation such as relative cost-benefit
considerations and any other concerns.
44.
We seek comment on ways the Commission could motivate and encourage
communications service providers to take appropriate measures, on a voluntary basis, to enhance overall
reliability and resiliency in the course of day-to-day operations, as well as continuity of operations during
major emergencies. In this context, what affirmative roles, if any, could the Commission play in working
with states, tribal, and/or local governments on existing initiatives or requirements that they might
impose? Are there new initiatives that the Commission should implement? If so, what are they and how
would they work? Are there grants or other funding mechanisms that might encourage communications
carriers to implement measures to maintain service during major emergencies? If so, what are they?
Have such mechanisms proven beneficial and effective in other contexts? If so, which ones, and what is
the nature of such programs? If not, should the Commission recommend to Congress or other Federal
agencies that such programs be established? If so, how should such programs be structured? What would
be the advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits of such programs?
45.
Given today's increasingly interconnected world, one in which communications services,
including broadband technologies, play a critical role in all segments of our society and economy, would
a regulatory approach to fostering enhanced reliability, resiliency, and continuity of operation be more or
less effective than voluntary, self-directed efforts by industry? What are the advantages and
disadvantages and costs and benefits of these two approaches? If the Commission were to promulgate
regulations, what particular technical or procedural requirements should it adopt? How should such rules
be structured? What facilities should be covered? What minimum technical standards should apply?
Should such rules be limited to communications assets located in areas prone to disaster or should they
extend to communications facilities used to provide communications services to public safety, hospitals,
power grids, and other critical infrastructure services? Should any regulations extend to text and video
communications, as well as telecommunications relay services, to ensure access by people with hearing or
speech disabilities? If the Commission were to adopt specific requirements, are there certain
communications service providers (e.g., small carriers) to which exemptions or different requirements
should apply? Are there certain factors that, if present, should excuse compliance from such
requirements?
46.
If the Commission were to adopt technical requirements relating to maintaining
continuity of operations during major emergencies, how could it ensure compliance? In the Katrina
Panel
proceeding, the Commission adopted a requirement that service providers submit lists of their
communications assets that were in compliance with its backup power rule, those falling under each of
three exemptions, and those not in compliance and not subject to an exemption.50 Virtually all industry
stakeholders participating in that proceeding as well as the Paperwork Reduction Act process argued that
the reporting scheme was overly burdensome and costly.51 If the Commission were to adopt backup
power or other technical requirements relating to continuity of operation during emergencies, what
alternatives to the Katrina Panel proceeding's approach, if any, should it adopt? What would be the
advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits of such requirements? Would a self-certification
requirement or periodic audits be sufficient? If the Commission did not adopt a reporting requirement,
how could it ensure compliance with continuity of operation requirements?


50 See 47 C.F.R. 12.2, et seq. (2007) ("Redundancy of Communications Systems").
51 See Katrina Panel Order On Reconsideration, 22 FCC Rcd at 18026.
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47.
Should the Commission require communications service providers to develop emergency
response plans? If so, what information should be contained in such plans? Should the Commission
require that service providers file emergency response plans with the Commission? If so, when, and how
often? Should these plans be subject to Commission review prior to implementation? If not, should these
plans be subject to review by the Commission at some point after implementation? What would be the
advantages and disadvantages and costs and benefits of such a requirement?
48.
As a general matter, we also seek comment on what consideration, if any, the
Commission should give to any continuity of operation requirements that may presently, or in the future,
be imposed by states, tribal, territorial, or local governments, and how any actions taken by the
Commission should bear upon such requirements. We also seek comment on any initiatives related to
continuity of operation in other countries, including successful and unsuccessful examples, and how those
experiences might inform our consideration of these matters.

D.

Legal Authority

49.
We seek comment on the Commission's legal authority to take action to address these
important issues. What provisions of the Communications Act would support Commission action to
ensure the reliability and continuity of networks during major emergencies? For example, would the
Commission's licensing authority under section 307(a) permit it to address matters related to network
reliability, resiliency, or the maintenance of operation during major emergencies by license holders
(including licensees providing interconnected VoIP service and broadband service) if the Commission
finds that the "public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby"?52 Similarly, could the
Commission adopt regulations through its authority under section 316(a)(1) to modify licenses "if in the
judgment of the Commission such action will promote the public interest, convenience, and necessity"?53
Would Section 303(b), which requires the Commission to "[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be
rendered by each class of licensed stations and each station within any class," give the Commission the
authority to establish service reliability levels and the means for achieving those levels?54 With respect to
common carriers, would section 201(b), which requires that all "practices" of common carriers be just and
reasonable, permit the Commission to adopt regulations specifying minimum reliability, resiliency or
continuity of service requirements for a carrier's practices to be considered "just and reasonable"?55
50.
Similarly, would section 214(d) permit the Commission to require a carrier to incorporate
backup power or other emergency preparedness equipment in its networks or to adhere to reliability and
resiliency measures as an obligation to "provide itself with adequate facilities for the expeditious and
efficient performance of its service as a common carrier"?56 Would the Commission have authority to
impose such requirements on interconnected VoIP providers or broadband Internet access service


52 47 U.S.C. 307(a) ("The Commission, if public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby, subject
to the limitations of this Act, shall grant to any applicant therefor a station license provided for by this Act.").
53 47 U.S.C. 316(a); Celtronix Telemetry v. FCC, 272 F.3d 585 (D.C. Cir. 2001).
54 47 U.S.C. 303(b).
55 47 U.S.C. 201(b) ("All . . . practices . . . for and in connection with [interstate or foreign communication by wire
or radio] shall be just and reasonable, and any such . . . practice . . . that is unjust or unreasonable is hereby declared
to be unlawful.").
56 Id. 214 (d).
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providers pursuant to its ancillary authority?57 For example, does maintaining reliable and resilient
interconnected VoIP service, particularly during emergencies, further the goal of section 251(a) that all
telecommunications carriers interconnect with other carriers, since if a telecommunications carrier's
customer is unable to place a call to an interconnected VoIP provider's customer because of an
interconnected VoIP provider's failure to provide reliable and resilient service, the carrier's customer
effectively would be denied the intended benefits of section 251(a)? Could lack of reliable and resilient
broadband service during an emergency prevent a user of common carrier services from communicating
with interconnected VoIP subscribers, who also rely on broadband connections?58 What other statutory
provisions could support Commission action in this area, either directly or through the use of ancillary
authority?

IV.

PROPOSED TERMINATION OF RELATED PROCEEDINGS

51.
We propose to terminate the above-captioned proceedings PS Docket 10-92 (Effects on
Broadband Communications Networks of Damage or Failure of Network Equipment or Severe Overload)
and EB Docket 06-119 (Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on
Communications Networks
). The issues raised in this proceeding are interrelated to and overlap with
issues raised in both the Survivability NOI and the Katrina Panel proceeding. Further, with respect to the
Katrina Panel proceeding, we note that the Commission's last substantive action took place in 2007. In
addition, many of the issues raised by commenters in that proceeding are either pending in another
proceeding or have been addressed in the Katrina Panel Order or in other proceedings. Consequently, we
anticipate no further substantive action in that docketed proceeding and believe that closing that
proceeding would serve the public interest. To ensure a comprehensive examination of all issues related
to reliability, resiliency, survivability, and continuity of communications networks, we believe that
consolidation of all of these issues into this proceeding and termination of the Survivability Notice
proceeding would serve the public interest. We seek comment on this proposal.59 Under this proposal,
the Commission would consider the record of the two terminated proceedings, to the extent relevant, in
this proceeding.

V.

CONCLUSION

52.
We intend for the record generated by this proceeding to provide the opportunity for a
thorough discussion of the reliability and continuity of the operational capabilities of our Nation's
communications infrastructure.

VI.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Ex Parte Presentations

53.
This matter will be treated as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding in accordance with the


57 Under Comcast v. FCC, rules adopted by the Commission must be within the Commission's subject matter
jurisdiction over interstate and foreign wire and radio communications and tied to a statutorily mandated
responsibility. Comcast Corp. v. FCC, 600 F.3d 642, 661 (D.C. Cir. 2010).
58 See 47 C.F.R. 9.3 (defining interconnected VoIP as a service that, among other things, "[r]equires a broadband
connection from the user's location").
59 Our approach here is consistent with the procedures for termination of dormant proceedings recently adopted by
the Commission. See Amendment of Certain of the Commission's Part 1 Rules of Practice and Procedure and Part
0 Rules of Commission Organization
, Report and Order, CG Docket No. 10-44, FCC 11-16, __ FCC Rcd ____
(2011).
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Commission's ex parte rules.60 Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda
summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the presentations and not
merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one- or two-sentence description of the views and
arguments presented is generally required.61
Other rules pertaining to oral and written ex parte
presentations in permit-but-disclose proceedings are set forth in section 1.1206(b) of the Commission's
rules.62 Parties wishing to file materials with a claim of confidentiality should follow the procedures set
forth in section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. Confidential submissions may not be filed via ECFS
but rather should be filed with the Secretary's Office following the procedures set forth in 47 C.F.R.
0.459. Redacted versions of confidential submissions may be filed via ECFS.

B.

Comment Filing Procedures

54.
Pursuant to sections 1.415, 1.419, and 1.430 of the Commission's rules,63 interested
parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this
document. Comments may be filed using: (1) the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System
(ECFS), (2) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies.64

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/
or the Federal eRulemaking Portal:
http://www.regulations.gov.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, 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.
o Effective December 28, 2009, all hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for
the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW,
Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the
building.
o Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.


60 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1200 & 1.1206. Although a Notice of Inquiry proceeding is generally exempt from the ex
parte
rules, we find that the public interest is best served by treating this matter of critical importance to the
reliability of our Nation's communications networks as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding. See 47 C.F.R.
1.1200(a), 1.1204(b)(1).
61 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b).
62 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b).
63 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, 1.430.
64 See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
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o U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.

C.

Accessible Formats

55.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

VII.

ORDERING CLAUSE

56.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 4(o), 7(b), and 403
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i)-(j) & (o), 157(b) and 403, this
Notice of Inquiry IS ADOPTED.
57.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that comments with respect to the proposed termination of
PS Docket 10-92 and EB Docket 06-119 shall be filed within 30 days after publication of this item in the
Federal Register.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

Re:
Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband
Technologies, PS Docket No. 11-60
The recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan are a stark reminder of how
heavily we depend on reliable and resilient communications networks, especially during major
emergencies. It is an unfortunate irony that such disasters often provide the best opportunity to
learn about the strengths and weaknesses of communications infrastructure.
The terrible events in Japan are an example of a tragedy of scale in a broadband society.
The Japanese used broadband to mitigate the impact of these natural disasters, and their efforts
offer examples for us.
For example, the Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake early warning system relied
on broadband to automatically issue alerts via cell phones and TV after the first, less harmful
earthquake shock wave, providing a short window for people to prepare for the more powerful
shock wave that followed.
The broadband-based warning system also caused many energy plants, industrial
facilities, and transportation services to shut down automatically, averting problems at these
locations. High-speed trains automatically came to a safe stop in response to earthquake alerts
transmitted along the rail system.
The United States does not currently have a comparable earthquake warning system. It is
something we should consider, especially for our regions that are most prone to earthquakes.
The events in Japan also demonstrate the importance of reliable and resilient Internet-
based communications, especially mobile services. Residents of Japan with mobile phones, for
example, were able to rely on their battery-powered devices to access web-based disaster
message boards, Twitter, and social networking sites to report on their status and check for
updates regarding family and friends. People reporting into disaster message boards could
choose a pre-set status message or write their own short message, and millions of such messages
were recorded in the days after the earthquake and tsunami.
The continued ability to use wireless devices to access the Internet was in large part due
to the redundancy of Japan's wireless mesh network, which can automatically reroute signals
over alternate paths if one route is destroyed. The reliability of mesh networking is another
lesson we can draw from Japan.
I understand that the Government of Japan and Japanese communications providers have
put considerable thought and planning into disaster contingency plans, including backup power
requirements. We strive to learn more about the specific best practices in Japan, which enabled
an impressive communications recovery in light of widespread devastation. In the United States,
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we have no federal rules on backup power, and we have to ask whether that situation is
acceptable. The inquiry we initiate today is intended to explore this and similar important
questions.
The Japanese tragedy showed the role that broadcasting plays in emergencies. Radio in
particular played a significant role in Japan, as residents who lost power could turn on the radio
in their cars and receive essential information.
The Japanese tragedy also showed the importance of having redundant transmission
facilities. Three of seven trans-Pacific undersea cables had sections of their systems badly
damaged in the earthquake. These undersea cable systems are expected to be restored in the next
two months, but because of both the redundancy and the resiliency of the undersea cable
networks, international communications to Japan continued even on the days immediately
following the earthquake.
Such redundancy is generally in place for undersea cable systems that directly serve the
United States. The Commission keeps a close eye on the resiliency of these important
communications networks, and Japan shows us why it is important that we be vigilant.
Events such as those in Japan shine a light on the importance of ensuring reliable and
resilient critical communications infrastructure at all levels, at all times, and especially during
major disasters.
In the United States, virtually every segment of our society relies heavily on
communications networks both wireless and wireline, both legacy systems and, increasingly,
broadband networks. This includes our Nation's first responders and public safety providers; the
energy, health care, and financial sectors; and homes and businesses across America.
The rapid migration of our Nation's communications infrastructure from older legacy
technologies to Internet Protocol-based broadband technology underscores the need for an
assessment of the reliability of our communications networks.
That is why the National Broadband Plan recommended that the Commission commence
an inquiry to better understand the reliability and resiliency standards being applied to broadband
networks. Users of communications services today whether large enterprises, small
businesses, or individual consumers expect the same reliable service no matter what platform
they use (and may not even be aware of what platform they use).
Today the Commission takes another step to implement the National Broadband Plan by
launching a disciplined approach to gathering information about the reliability and resiliency of
our Nation's communications infrastructure. Our goal is to determine what actions we should
take to ensure that our communications networks remain functioning when there is a natural or
manmade disaster.
Communications service providers have a legitimate interest in protecting sensitive
commercial and proprietary information. And we understand the real-world economic
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constraints that commercial providers face. We will be mindful of that while seeking to
understand the robustness of our communications networks and identify actions to improve the
operations of our communications systems in an emergency. These matters are also of vital
importance as we transition to and implement Next Generation 9-1-1, which is a priority for this
Commission.
Finally, this inquiry implements a key energy recommendation of the National
Broadband Plan by considering matters related to giving utilities the certainty they need to use
commercial networks for smart grid communications.
This Notice of Inquiry takes an important step forward to examine all of these matters.
While we of course strive to prevent and minimize the impact of major emergencies, we also
know that they are inevitable. This Inquiry is about ensuring that our communications
infrastructure is prepared when disaster strikes. Recent events remind us of the powerful
importance of this effort.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

Re:
Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies, PS
Docket No. 11-60, Effects on Broadband Communications Networks of Damage or Failure of
Network Equipment or Severe Overload
, PS Docket No. 10-92, Independent Panel Viewing the
Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks
, EB Docket No. 06-119, Notice of
Inquiry.
As we launch today's proceeding on the reliability and continuity of America's communications
networks, the images of the devastation along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina come rushing back.
I remember very well traveling with then-Chairman Martin to survey the damage first-hand. We saw
communities ripped apart by wind and water, lives uprooted and families divided, and communications
networks essential to responding and recovering destroyed. Immediately after, we started looking at ways
to improve the reliability, redundancy and survivability of our critical communications infrastructure, and
I renewed my call for the creation of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. So, I take great
pleasure in seeing today's Notice of Inquiry presented by just such a Bureau.
We--the Commission, industry and public safety--learned a number of lessons from Katrina
about the impact that disasters can have on networks. We've made some progress in implementing them,
but our work was never close to done. And new challenges confront us. Not only is every emergency
event different, but our technology tools are different, too. As communications networks migrate from
legacy technologies to IP-based services over broadband, we need to make sure that we understand how
this impacts service reliability and resiliency. We need to be as prepared as we can possibly be to ensure
that public safety responders, the energy and finance sectors, and ordinary citizens can stay connected
during times of emergency. After all, it's not a question of if another disaster will strike, but when.
I commend the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for teeing up so many key questions
in this Notice of Inquiry and thank particularly the Chairman for all the hard work he is doing to enhance
the safety of our people. Given the importance of this proceeding, I encourage all interested parties to
make detailed comments for our consideration. It's going to be a critically-important record for how we
go about the job of protecting our critical communications infrastructure.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELL

Re:
Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies,
Notice of Inquiry, PS Docket No. 11-60, FCC 11-55
I support today's inquiry into the reliability, resiliency and continuity of our nation's
communications networks and technologies during emergencies. I am especially gratified that we are
proposing terminating two open proceedings in favor of the comprehensive approach set forth in today's
NOI. I thank Chairman Genachowski for creating a more efficient procedure for those interested in
participating.

I have a particular interest in learning more about our legal authority in this area, especially as it
pertains to more discrete matters such as back up power mandates, an issue the Commission has struggled
with over the years. In addition, I will look for information on whether and how public safety entities
may use commercial off-the-shelf equipment and technologies. I understand that the public safety
community has historically opposed reliance upon commercial products due to concerns over lack of
coverage, reliability and security. A consensus may be emerging among them, however, that commercial
technologies may provide significant benefits, at least for non-mission critical applications. I hope to
learn more about this important issue from both public safety and industry. I have long emphasized the
beneficial economies of scale associated with greater use of commercial services and technologies in the
public safety sector.
Finally, I want to acknowledge our colleague in the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau,
Gary Thayer. I understand that Gary postponed his retirement to help launch this proceeding today.
Thank you, Gary, for your work in this proceeding, as well as for your twenty-four years of service here
at the Commission. I wish you the best and congratulate you!
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STATEMENT OF

FCC COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
Notice of Inquiry in the Matter of Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks,
Including Broadband Technologies (PS Docket No. 11-60; FCC 11-55).

It is almost impossible these days to turn on the television, listen to the radio, or surf the Internet,
without hearing news about the heartbreaking situation in Japan. While we all continue to pray for a
speedy recovery for that Nation, it is important to note that the devastation could have been even worse
without the country's advanced communications capabilities. Reports indicate that numerous lives were
saved through television and cell phone alerts, issued by Japan's emergency warning system, which
afforded citizens time to prepare. The Internet also played a key role, allowing many to communicate
with families and friends via Twitter, Facebook, and Skype.
This unfortunate event underscores the need for examining the continuity and reliability of
communications networks here in the United States. It is imperative that, during large-scale disasters,
citizens are able to obtain vital information from public safety officials and communicate with loved ones.
Our Nation's own experiences, in the aftermath of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and
violent storms like the one which struck my parent's neighborhood in South Carolina this week, highlight
the importance of having our networks protected from potential failures. The NOI asks important
questions about critical features in preventing the outages such as the need for backup power, and
backhaul redundancy.
I am also pleased to see that the NOI engages in a comprehensive inquiry on the continuity and
reliability of our broadband networks. Critical sectors such as public safety, energy, and finance, are
migrating from older, legacy, technologies to broadband. Consumers of communications services at all
levels may not know much about the technological platform used to deliver their communications
services. But these consumers expect the same level of quality and reliability regardless of the platform.
We must take steps now to see whether these IP based networks have the high carrier grade standards of
legacy systems.
In my opinion, the best way to address these issues is to gather input from the widest possible
array of stakeholders. Such collaboration allows us to fashion solutions that achieve important policy
initiatives without imposing unreasonable burdens on any communications companies. It is possible the
industry leadership has developed high quality standards that are necessary to address reliability concerns,
for legacy and broadband networks. This proceeding will help shed light on best practices and allow the
Commission to take a proper approach to encourage adoption of those standards.
I look forward to reviewing recommendations on ways to ensure continual, reliable service on all
communications networks during major emergencies. In addition, I commend the Public Safety and
Homeland Security Bureau, for its excellent work and leadership on this important issue.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER

Re:
Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, Including Broadband Technologies (PS
Docket No. 11-60); Effects on Broadband Communications Networks for Damage or Failure of
Network Equipment of Severe Overload (PS Docket No. 10-92); Independent Panel Reviewing
the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks (EB Docket No. 06-119)

The American people deserve the highest degree of continuity, reliability, and resiliency in their
communications networks. All segments of our society, from national security to consumer welfare,
increasingly depend on them. This is particularly true in the event of a disaster, regardless of whether it
is natural or man-made. Exploring the capabilities and deficiencies of our networks is critical to
determining any improvements needed to them. The inquiry we launch today will help us understand
how and if we can use our authority to promote these improvements as our Nation's technologies and
systems continue to evolve. I look forward to learning more as we work together to analyze this essential
infrastructure.
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