The Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative
The FCC recently adopted mandatory actions to improve the reliability and resiliency of wireless networks during emergencies. The rules will help reduce wireless phone outages for the public and support faster service restoration after hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
For more than five years, disaster recovery activities in the wireless industry were supported by the 2016 Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework. This was a voluntary industry agreement to promote resilient communications and situational awareness during disasters through roaming agreements, mutual aid, and other measures.
The new Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative, adopted by the Commission in June 2022, is based on the original Framework but expanded to incorporate lessons learned and better support public safety. These mandatory actions to improve resiliency create and extend requirements for all facilities-based mobile wireless providers and expand the triggers for activation of these requirements during emergencies.
In general, the Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative requires wireless providers to:
- Provide roaming to one another when a network is down, where technically feasible;
- Establish mutual aid agreements to share physical assets and to consult with one another before and during emergencies;
- Enhance municipal preparedness;
- Increase consumer readiness; and
- Improve public awareness and stakeholder communications regarding restoration times.
These mandatory actions cover more disasters and emergencies than before, and are now triggered:
- When the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Support Function (ESF-2) is activated;
- When the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) is activated; or
- When the Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issues an activation Public Notice upon request of a state, when that state has activated it Emergency Operations, activated mutual aid, or proclaimed a local state of emergency.
Wireless providers will be obligated to test their roaming capabilities under these mandatory agreements and provide reports to the Commission on the timing, duration and effectiveness of their activities performed under the rules when directed to do so by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. The Commission also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that sought comment on how to make this reporting as useful as possible. The FNPRM remains pending before the Commission.
New rules that constitute information collections will become effective once they are approved by the Office of Management and Budget. In the meantime, the Commission will continue to monitor wireless providers’ compliance with their voluntary commitments in the Wireless Network Cooperative Framework.
History of the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework
The Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework of 2016 was a voluntary Framework originally committed to by the following signatories:
- AT&T Mobility
- Southern Linc
- Sprint (*prior to its merger with T-Mobile)
- U.S. Cellular
- Verizon Wireless
Additionally, the Competitive Carriers Association filed a letter supporting the Framework.
On December 20, 2017, CTIA, as part of its commitment to the Framework, released a set of best practices designed to enhance emergency and disaster preparedness and restoration.
For further information, contact: Logan Bennett, Attorney Advisor, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-7790, Logan.Bennett@fcc.gov.
- October 4, 2022 - Public Notice
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces Publication of Resilient Networks Report and Order and Comment and Reply Comment Dates for the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in PS Docket Nos. 21-346 and 15-80; ET Docket No. 04-35
- July 6, 2022 - Report & Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Acts to Improve Network Resiliency During Disasters
- October 1, 2021 - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
FCC Launches Rulemaking to Improve Communications Reliability During Disasters
- March 26, 2021 - Public Notice
PSHSB Seeks Comment on Wireless Providers' Safety Measures
- April 1, 2019 - Public Notice
FCC Seeks Comment on Improving Wireless Resiliency Framework
- January 3, 2019 - Public Notice
Improving Wireless Resiliency Through Power Company Coordination
- December 10, 2018 - Public Notice
FCC Seeks Comment on Improving Wireless Network Resiliency
- November 6, 2018 - News Release
FCC Seeks Industry Input in Review of Wireless Resiliency Framework
- June 13, 2018 - Public Notice
PSHSB Seeks Comment on Wireless Network Resiliency Framework & 911
- August 3, 2017 - Public Notice
Public Safety And Homeland Security Bureau Reminds Wireless Providers Interested In Participating In The Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework To File Their Intent In PS Docket No. 11-60 1