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Public Safety Frequently Asked Questions


What is the mission of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB)?
To collaborate with the public safety community, industry and other government entities to license, facilitate, restore and recover communications services used by the citizens of the United States, including first responders, before, during and after emergencies by disseminating critical information to the public and by implementing the FCCs policy initiatives.
How is PSHSB organized?
PSHSB consists of the Office of the Bureau Chief and three divisions:

- Policy Division (Policy): The Policy Division drafts, develops, and administers rules, regulations, and policies for PSHSB and oversees licensing of spectrum for public safety entities.

- Communications Systems Analysis Division (CSAD): CSAD administers the FCCs information collection requirements (e.g., network outage reports) and performs analyses and studies concerning public safety, homeland security, emergency management and preparedness, disaster management and national security.

- Public Communications Outreach and Operations Division (PCOOD): PCOOD is responsible for coordinating the FCCs emergency response procedures and operations, and operating the Communications and Crisis Management Center and the High Frequency Direction Finding Capability facilities.

Where can I find the most current information on PSHSB actions?
For the most current information on PSHSB actions, visit the Releases webpage.
What are PSHSB summits?
Four times a year, PSHSB hosts summits on various topics relevant to the public safety community. These half-day conferences include panel discussions with experts from many fields, including public safety officials, federal government agencies and industry groups. Previous topics and summit webcasts can be viewed on the Summits page. For more information about upcoming summits, please contact Susan McLean, PSHSB Outreach Coordinator, at (202) 418-7868 or
My organization will be leading a conference on public safety communications issues and we are interested in PSHSB participation. Whom should I contact?
Contact PSHSB Outreach Coordinator, Susan McLean, at or (202) 418-7868. Please provide information about your organization and the conference.
Where can I send an e-mail with a general question on public safety communications issues?
For general questions on public safety communications issues, please contact PSHSB via e-mail at


What is the PSHSBs Clearinghouse?
The PSHSB Clearinghouse has been established for the collection, evaluation and dissemination of public safety communications information. The Clearinghouse is a resource database of emergency plans, best practices, lessons learned and other reference documents organized according to target group, such as First Responders, Healthcare Sector, 9-1-1 Services/Primary Safety Answering Points, and Persons with Disabilities.
What are Priority Services?
The federal government has three Priority Communications Services to support National Security/Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) activities: Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP), Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Wireless Priority Service (WPS). The services should be an important aspect of any emergency communications strategy, especially for those who rely on communications to respond to events and incidents on a daily basis and want to minimize their connectivity downtime. Federal sponsorship is necessary to enroll in these NS/EP programs. Please visit the Priority Services webpage for information.
Where can I find information on federal resources and grants for the public safety community?
Please visit the Clearinghouse webpage dedicated to Federal Resources and Grants. This page provides information from a multitude of federal agencies that support public safety and homeland security activities. Information is also posted for grants that federal agencies provide to local and state entities for public safety purposes.
How can I contact PSHSB in case of emergency?
Please visit the emergency contacts webpage for PSHSB emergency contact information.
What is the responsibility of the Operations Center?
The Operations Center provides 24-hour-a-day situational awareness and expert strategic assessments on trends for all crisis scenarios that may have public safety, national security or emergency preparedness implications. The Operations Center serves as the primary communications center for the FCC and its licensees during all times of heightened alert, national security or disaster activities. It is also responsible for issuing Special Temporary Authority (STA) in emergencies. The Operations Center can be reached via email at or via telephone at (202) 418-1122.
What is a Special Temporary Authority (STA)?
An STA is the authority granted to a permittee or licensee to allow the operation of a communications facility for a limited period. Bureaus and Offices may issue STAs for emergency situations, such as natural disasters, restoration of communications, or other short term operations whereby the applicant has made a showing that, due to extraordinary circumstances, it cannot wait for the normal licensing process to conclude.
Whom should I contact for Special Temporary Authority (STA) in an emergency?
For short-term Special Temporary Authority (STA) in an emergency situation, please contact the CCMC at (202) 418-1122. Beyond short-term emergency situations, please contact the Bureau or Office that oversees your license. To locate that information, please visit the Special Temporary Authority webpage.


How does the Digital Television (DTV) Transition impact the Public Safety Community?
The DTV transition affects the 700 MHz Spectrum which runs from 698-806 MHz. It is currently occupied by television broadcasters, but will be made available for other wireless services, including public safety and commercial services, as a result of the DTV transition. The DTV transition must be completed by February 17, 2009. For a full description of the DTV transition, visit
Where can I find information on the 700 MHz and 800 MHz Public Safety Spectrum?
For information on 700 MHz and the FCCs most recent actions concerning the 700 MHz, visit the 700 MHz webpage. For information on 800 MHz, the 800 MHz Band Reconfiguration, and the FCCs most recent actions concerning the 800 MHz, visit the 800 MHz webpage.
Who do I contact if I have general application licensing questions?
For general information, visit the FCCs licensing webpage. You may also contact ULS Support at (888) 225-5322 and select option 2 or any certified frequency coordinator listed on the website. If you have technical questions that cannot be answered by ULS Support, your question will be referred to the licensing staff.
Where can I report misuse of the Public Safety Spectrum?
To report any interference or misuse of the public safety spectrum, please file a complaint with the Enforcement Bureau (EB). EBs Spectrum Enforcement Division, in conjunction with the Regional and Field Offices, is responsible for responding to interference complaints involving FCC licensees. Please visit EBs interference page.
Do public safety personnel have to be individually licensed to broadcast on public safety radio spectrum?
No, public safety personnel do not have to be individually licensed. For more information on who needs operating licenses, please visit the FCCs page on Commercial Radio Operator License Program.


What is the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)?
CALEA requires a "telecommunications carrier," as defined by the Act, to ensure that equipment, facilities, or services that allow a customer or subscriber to "originate, terminate, or direct communications," enable law enforcement officials to conduct electronic surveillance pursuant to court order or other lawful authorization. CALEA was intended to preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance by requiring that telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment modify and design their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have the necessary surveillance capabilities as communications network technologies evolve. In May 2006, the FCC issued a Second Report and Order that required facilities-based broadband Internet access providers and providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service to come into compliance with CALEA obligations no later than May 14, 2007.
What is the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)?
CMAS is a new nationwide warning system that sends text messages via cellular phones to alert the public of emergencies. In 2008, the FCC adopted rules establishing CMAS whereby commercial mobile service (CMS) providers may choose to transmit emergency alerts to their subscribers. Subscribers could receive up to three classes of text-based alerts (i.e., Presidential, Imminent Threat (e.g., tornado) and Amber Alerts). To ensure that people with disabilities have access to alerts, CMS providers who choose to participate in the CMAS must provide a unique audio attention signal and vibration cadence on CMAS-compatible handsets.
What is the Emergency Alert System?
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a National emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as AMBER alerts and weather information. EAS equipment can directly monitor the National Weather Service for local weather and other emergency alerts, which local broadcast stations, cable systems, and other EAS participants can then rebroadcast. State and local governments submit their EAS plans to the FCC for review to ensure adherence to EAS requirements. Please visit the EAS webpage.
What is Enhanced 9-1-1 (E 9-1-1)?
Enhanced 9-1-1 is a more precise tool for 9-1-1 services/public safety answering points (PSAPs) to use. E 9-1-1 provides the PSAP with caller identification and call origination location, which helps First Responders when responding to 9-1-1 calls. The FCCs E 9-1-1 rules are aimed at improving the reliability of wireline and wireless 9-1-1 services and the accuracy of the location information transmitted with a 9-1-1 call. For additional information on E 9-1-1, please visit the E 9-1-1 webpage.
What is the responsibility of the High Frequency Direction Finding Capability (HFDFC) facilities?
The HFDFC ensures public safety and security of the High Frequency (HF) radio spectrum (below 30 MHz) by providing assistance and technical expertise to the FCC and its licensees before, during and after emergencies. It also provides interference resolution to FCC licensees and federal government agencies, and supports the enforcement and management of the HF Spectrum.
What is the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS)?
NORS is the web-based filing system through which communications providers, covered by Part 4 of the FCCs reporting rules, submit reports to the FCC. This system uses an electronic template to promote ease of reporting and encryption technology to ensure the security of the information filed. Providers must report outages to NORS if the outages last at least 30 minutes and/or affects at least 900,000 minutes of service, and other conditions which are set forth in Part 4 of the FCCs reporting rules. Please visit the NORS webpage for more information.
What is the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and when will it be used?
DIRS is a voluntary, web-based system that communications companies, including wireless, wireline, broadcast, and cable providers, can use to report communications infrastructure status and situational awareness information during times of crisis. DIRS will only be activated for major disasters. When activated, DIRS will collect information concerning switches, Public Safety Answering Points, interoffice facilities, cell sites, broadcast stations, and cable television systems. PSHSB will analyze the data from DIRS to identify trends and patterns in crises. Please visit the DIRS webpage for more information.
What are Amateur Radio Services and why are they important to public safety?
The FCC established amateur radio service as a voluntary non-commercial radio communications service that allows licensed operators to improve their communications and technical skills, while providing the nation with a pool of trained radio operators and technicians who can provide essential communications during emergencies. During emergencies, amateur radio operators may transmit messages to other amateur stations, subject to the privileges authorized for the class of license the amateur station control operator holds. For these transmissions, no special FCC permissions are required. Please visit the Amateur Radio Services webpage for more information.

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