[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 222 (Monday, November 18, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 69018-69033]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-27453]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 4

[PS Docket No. 13-239; PS Docket No. 11-60; FCC 13-125]


Improving the Resiliency of Mobile Wireless Communications 
Networks; Reliability and Continuity of Communications Networks, 
Including Broadband Technologies

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission seeks 
comment on measures to promote the resiliency and transparency of 
mobile wireless networks. This document considers and seeks comment on, 
among other measures, a requirement that mobile wireless network 
providers report for public disclosure on a daily basis during major 
disasters the percentages of their cell sites that are operational. 
This document also seeks comment on alternative informational 
disclosures and on other approaches to improving network resiliency.

DATES: Submit comments on or before January 17, 2014 and reply comments 
by February 18, 2014. Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act 
proposed information collection requirements must be submitted by the 
public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested 
parties on or before January 17, 2014.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission, 
445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Comments may be submitted 
electronically through the Federal Communications Commission's Web 
site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. In addition to filing comments 
with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the proposed Paperwork 
Reduction Act information collection requirements contained herein 
should be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission via email 
to PRA@fcc.gov and to Nicholas A. Fraser, Office of Management and 
Budget, via email to Nicholas_A._Fraser@omb.eop.gov or via fax at 
202-395-5167. For detailed instructions for submitting comments and 
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document. 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 CFR 0.459. 
Redacted versions of confidential submissions may be filed via ECFS.

[[Page 69019]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Renee Roland, Special Counsel, Public 
Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-2352 or 
renee.roland@fcc.gov; Brian Hurley, Attorney Advisor, Public Safety and 
Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-2220 or brian.hurley@fcc.gov. For 
additional information concerning the proposed Paperwork Reduction Act 
information collection requirements contained in this document, contact 
Cathy Williams, or send an email to PRA@fcc.gov or to 
Cathy.Williams@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking in PS Docket No. 13-239 and PS Docket No. 11-60, 
released on September 27, 2013, as FCC 13-125. The full text of this 
document is available for public inspection during regular business 
hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554, or online at http://www.fcc.gov/document/improving-resiliency-mobile-wireless-communications-networks. To view a 
copy of this information collection request (ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) 
Go to the Web page http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain, (2) look 
for the section of the Web page called ``Currently Under Review,'' (3) 
click on the downward-pointing arrow in the ``Select Agency'' box below 
the ``Currently Under Review'' heading, (4) select ``Federal 
Communications Commission'' from the list of agencies presented in the 
``Select Agency'' box, (5) click the ``Submit'' button to the right of 
the ``Select Agency'' box, (6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently 
under review appears, look for the Title of this ICR and then click on 
the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC submission to OMB will be 
displayed.

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce 
paperwork burdens, invites the general public and OMB to comment on the 
proposed information collection requirements contained in this 
document, as required by the PRA. Comments should address: (a) Whether 
the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper 
performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the 
information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the 
Commission's burden estimates; (c) ways to enhance the quality, 
utility, and clarity of the information collected; (d) ways to minimize 
the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, 
including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology; and (e) ways to further reduce the information 
collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 
employees. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief 
Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506 (c)(4), the 
Commission seeks specific comment on how it may ``further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees.''
    OMB Control Number: 3060-XXXX.
    Title: Improving the Resiliency of Mobile Wireless Communications 
Networks.
    Type of Review: New Collection.
    Form No.: N/A.
    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.
    Number of Respondents and Responses: 60 respondents, 660 responses.
    Estimated Time per Response: 0.1 hr.-0.5 hr. per response.
    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement.
    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The 
statutory authority is contained in Section 201(b) of the 
Communications Act, as amended, among other statutory provisions.
    Total Annual Burden: 1,570 hours.
    Total Estimated Annual Cost: None.
    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).
    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: The information will be made 
available to the public so there is no need for confidentiality with 
this collection of information.
    Needs and Uses: The Commission is requesting approval to require 
mobile wireless providers to report to the Commission for public 
disclosure, once each day during major disasters, the percentages of 
their cell sites that are operational in each affected county. The 
Commission would then disclose this information on its Web site. Such 
disclosures will give consumers a ``yardstick'' for comparing the 
performance of various providers during emergencies, which may 
influence their choice of provider. Also, by holding providers 
accountable for their performance, such disclosures could spur 
improvements to mobile wireless networks to enhance their resiliency. 
Improving the resiliency of these networks would contribute greatly to 
the safety of the public, as Americans increasingly rely on mobile 
wireless networks to communicate during emergencies and to access 9-1-1 
for emergency assistance. See Improving the Resiliency of Mobil 
Wireless Communications Networks, PS Docket No. 13-239, FCC 13-125, 
Section 4.15 (Disaster Reporting Requirements for Commercial Mobile 
Radio Services Providers).

I. Introduction

    1. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the Federal 
Communications Commission (Commission) considers measures to promote 
transparency to consumers as to how mobile wireless service providers 
compare in keeping their networks operational in emergencies, which 
could in turn encourage competition to improve the resiliency of mobile 
wireless communications networks during emergencies. Specifically, we 
seek comment on a proposal to require facilities-based Commercial 
Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers to submit to the Commission for 
public disclosure, on a daily basis during and immediately after major 
disasters, the percentage of cell sites within their networks that are 
providing CMRS. These disclosures would be made with respect to each 
county in the designated disaster area. We seek comment on whether 
public disclosure of this information, which can be derived from 
information many providers already report to the Commission 
voluntarily, could provide consumers with a reasonable ``yardstick'' 
for measuring how well mobile wireless networks maintain service during 
disasters. We also seek comment on whether other measures of service 
outages may be appropriate, and on certain other approaches to 
resiliency.
    2. In particular, we seek comment on the following issues:
     Whether the proposed reporting and disclosures would 
provide consumers with useful information for making comparisons about 
mobile wireless products and services;
     Whether such disclosures, by holding providers publicly 
accountable, could incentivize improvements to network resiliency while 
allowing providers flexibility in implementing such improvements;
     Whether such information would be useful to policymakers 
at state and local levels;
     Whether the proposed disclosures comport with ``smart 
disclosure'' principles;
     Whether the proposed disclosure would lead to adverse 
unintended consequences for consumers and mobile wireless providers;
     Whether the Commission should consider other measures, 
including alternative informational disclosures,

[[Page 69020]]

performance standards or voluntary measures, or refer issues of what 
information would be helpful to consumers to an advisory committee 
before acting.

II. Background

    3. In recent years, a number of major storms, including Superstorm 
Sandy in 2012, have impaired mobile wireless service in affected 
regions. Hurricane Isaac hit the Gulf Coast, resulting in more than 
twenty percent of area cell sites out of service in the aggregate in 
the designated reporting area. Superstorm Sandy disabled at its peak 
more than twenty-five percent of cell sites in 158 counties in all or 
part of ten states and the District of Columbia. The most extensive 
wireless service impairments from Superstorm Sandy were heavily 
concentrated in New Jersey and in the New York City metropolitan area, 
where millions of residents found themselves without reliable and 
continuous access to mobile wireless communications throughout the 
storm and its aftermath. Several counties had outages more than double 
the twenty-five-percent figure for the larger area--some much more--and 
for the State of New Jersey, all of which was included in the reporting 
area, aggregated cell site outages were on the order of forty percent. 
Of course, some service disruption may be unavoidable during major 
disasters, and surges in demand present added challenges. However, data 
that mobile wireless service providers submitted to the Commission via 
the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) and in follow-up 
meetings with Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau staff revealed 
that, as during previous storms such as Hurricane Isaac and others 
before that, service impacts during Superstorm Sandy and in its 
aftermath were not evenly distributed among mobile wireless service 
providers. Moreover, the operational choices and practices of different 
mobile wireless service providers may account for much of this 
variation. For example, practices regarding the provision of back-up 
power supplies at otherwise similar cell sites appear to vary among 
mobile wireless service providers, which may contribute to the ability 
of some mobile wireless service providers to provide more continuous 
and reliable service during the storm than others.
    4. To address these types of questions, the Commission launched a 
Notice of Inquiry (Reliability NOI) in 2011 to ``initiate a 
comprehensive examination of issues regarding the reliability, 
resiliency and redundancy of communications networks, including 
broadband technologies.'' The Commission asked a broad range of 
questions in the Reliability NOI on how to ensure continuity of 
communications services during major emergencies such as large scale 
natural and man-made disasters. For example, it sought comment on the 
need for reinstatement of emergency back-up power requirements of some 
form on communications providers ``to ensure adequate levels of service 
continuity during major emergencies.'' It also asked questions about 
the impact of inadequate backhaul redundancy on network operations 
during major emergencies.
    5. More recently, in the months following Superstorm Sandy, the 
Commission held field hearings in New York and New Jersey to further 
explore the communications impacts of Superstorm Sandy and consider 
lessons learned. It then held a follow-up field hearing in California 
to look, in part, at emerging technological solutions for improving 
communications during such emergencies. Among the concerns raised at 
these hearings was the lack of information made publicly available 
during Superstorm Sandy about the operational status of communications 
networks and the progress being made to rectify service outages.
    6. In a May 13, 2013 letter to the Commission, Consumers Union 
urged the Commission to conduct a rulemaking proceeding to ``establish 
appropriate metrics for measuring a wireless carrier's network 
performance,'' such as ``the number of a wireless carrier's non-
functioning cell towers in each county'' within a disaster area, ``and 
the percentage of the carrier's cell towers in that county that the 
number represents.'' Further, it urged the Commission to disclose such 
information to the public and to use it ``to set a schedule for phasing 
in improved performance standards [for wireless networks] as rapidly as 
practicable, with appropriate incentives for achieving them and 
appropriate penalties for unexcused failure to achieve them.'' In ex 
parte presentations filed July 17 and July 19, 2013, respectively, 
CTIA-The Wireless Association (CTIA) and the Competitive Carriers 
Association (CCA) argued that the Commission should gather more 
information before proceeding to a rulemaking on such matters. PCIA-The 
Wireless Infrastructure Association (PCIA) filed an ex parte 
presentation on August 5, 2013, raising similar concerns.
    7. More generally, the Commission relies on periodic reporting from 
communications providers to gauge network reliability. Part 4 of the 
Commission's rules, established in 2004, requires, inter alia, mobile 
wireless service providers to apprise the Commission of network outages 
that exceed certain quantitative thresholds, dependent on the type of 
services provided. The Commission collects this information in its 
Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), and then uses the information 
to identify larger trends and vulnerabilities in the nation's 
communications infrastructure. In addition, the Commission operates 
DIRS, created in 2007, which is activated during emergencies to collect 
near ``real-time'' status information from mobile wireless and other 
providers to improve the situational awareness of federal agencies, 
including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and 
streamline emergency response. Reporting in DIRS is voluntary; however, 
the Commission generally suspends the otherwise mandatory NORS 
reporting obligations of DIRS participants throughout periods when the 
latter system is fully activated. Information reported to the 
Commission in either of these reporting systems is afforded a 
presumption of confidential treatment, a policy the Commission adopted 
to protect filing parties from competitive harm and prevent terrorist 
targeting of vulnerable communications assets.
    8. To complement these efforts, the Commission has tasked federal 
advisory committees, chiefly the Communications Security, Reliability 
and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), with developing and recommending 
industry best practices to advance, among other objectives, the 
``security, reliability, and interoperability of communications 
systems.'' CSRIC has developed and recommended to the Commission 
specific actions to facilitate industry-wide improvements in these 
areas. The Commission generally encourages mobile wireless service 
providers, a significant cross-section of which participate in CSRIC, 
to implement these recommended best practices within their networks to 
the extent technically and economically feasible. The Commission relies 
primarily on NORS and DIRS reporting to assess whether network 
reliability best practices are being effectively implemented or are in 
need of refinement. The Technological Advisory Council, which is 
chartered to advise the Commission more broadly on technical matters, 
is also exploring approaches for improving broadband network 
resiliency.

[[Page 69021]]

III. Discussion

    9. Promoting the ``safety of life and property'' through the use of 
radio communications is part of the Commission's foundational mission. 
Whether, and how quickly, emergency calls get through and a first 
responder arrives might make the difference between life and death, so 
it is imperative that the public be able to reliably access 911, 
including with wireless phones. The proceeding we initiate today to 
improve the resiliency of mobile wireless networks builds upon 
information gathered through extensive prior efforts to address the 
resiliency of mobile wireless networks. As noted, these efforts began 
with the Hurricane Katrina panel in 2006, have included the adoption 
and subsequent withdrawal of mandatory back-up power requirements, 
followed by our 2011 Reliability NOI that sought broad and detailed 
comment on back-up power and other elements of network resiliency. We 
have gathered further information in our inquiry into the June 2012 
``derecho,'' and in our Superstorm Sandy field hearings held earlier 
this year. While we proceed to consideration of the proposals contained 
in this NPRM, we note that CTIA, CCA and PCIA have raised concerns 
about some of the proposals. We seek comment on these concerns in the 
discussion that follows. Ultimately, our objective is to ensure that 
any disclosure rules adopted in this area are tailored to the needs of 
consumers, do not impose undue burdens on service providers, and 
provide incentives that are most likely to lead to improvements in 
network reliability during emergencies.

A. Costs and Benefits of the Proposal

    10. We seek to determine the benefits to consumers and other 
communications users that would result from each proposal and any 
associated burden on mobile wireless service providers. We therefore 
request comment on a range of questions that will help us to weigh the 
costs and benefits of the reporting obligations we propose, as well as 
the alternative measures we put forward for consideration. For each 
cost or benefit addressed, we ask that commenters provide specific data 
and information such as actual or estimated dollar figures, including a 
description of how the data or information was calculated or obtained 
and any supporting documentation. All comments will be considered and 
given appropriate weight; vague or unsupported assertions regarding 
costs or benefits generally will receive less weight and be less 
persuasive than the more specific and supported statements.
    11. Quantifying specific benefits and costs of implementing the 
proposed rule and other proposals involves challenges. These costs and 
benefits can have many dimensions, including and beyond cost and 
revenue implications for industry and financial benefits to consumers. 
We also must consider other less tangible benefits, such as the value 
of more informed consumer choice and the value of any lives saved or 
health outcomes improved due to the completion of calls for help due to 
infrastructure hardening that could result from the increased 
competitive pressure to deliver reliable service during natural 
disasters and immediately thereafter. To assess the expected burden on 
providers, we seek comment on the nature and magnitude of the costs. In 
complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act, we recently estimated the 
annual reporting costs to be approximately $190,000 for all providers 
inputting wireless county cell site information in DIRS. That figure, 
however, comprised an estimate for DIRS reporting for considerably more 
information than is sought here. Moreover, because these carriers are 
already reporting needed information, they have already incurred the 
startup costs associated with any reporting system.
    12. We estimate that there are fewer than fifty additional 
providers that are not currently reporting DIRS data. Moreover, we 
believe that the non-reporting providers mostly are very small 
companies that typically serve only one or two counties. Therefore, 
even if we were to require all wireless providers in the disaster areas 
to file transparency reports--which is a question on which we are 
seeking comment--we expect the number of additional reporting providers 
to be below fifty and the counties involved to be relatively few. We 
estimate the total annual reporting cost for these providers to be 
$78,000, consisting of three elements. First is a $2,000 cost incurred 
if fifty providers each spend a half hour, at $80 per hour, to create 
and enter a user identification when first logging in to our Web site 
(i.e., 50 x 0.5 x $80 = $2,000). Second is a $4,000 cost incurred if 
fifty providers each spend a half hour, at $80 per hour, to file the 
initial reports on two counties (i.e., 50 x 0.5 x $80 x 2 = $4,000). 
Third is a $72,000 cost incurred if fifty providers each spend an hour, 
at $80 per hour, to verify and file daily follow-up reports on the two 
counties for nine additional days of DIRS reporting (i.e., 50 x 1 x $80 
x 2 x 9 = $72,000). We seek comment on these estimates and their 
underlying assumptions. We are particularly interested in receiving 
carrier data that would improve the accuracy of these estimated costs.
    13. To assess the expected benefits, we seek comment on the nature 
and magnitude of the benefits of the proposed rule. If public 
disclosure increases competitive pressure sufficiently to encourage 
providers to significantly harden their networks, we assume a likely 
result will be at least one life saved every five years. We also assume 
a life has a statistical value of $9.1 million. We seek comment on 
these two assumptions because, if they are reasonably accurate, they 
imply public disclosure would produce an annual benefit of $1.82 
million (i.e., $9.1 million divided by 5) in lives saved.
    14. Moreover, the potential benefits of public disclosure may not 
be limited to the value of human lives saved if infrastructure is 
enhanced. Medical outcomes also may be improved and considerable pain 
and suffering avoided when emergency service providers are able to 
respond to E-911 calls. The total medical benefits from preserving E-
911 services may be substantially greater than the value of lives 
saved. Further, another benefit of public disclosure may be to enable 
consumers to better assess the performance of mobile wireless service 
providers during major emergency events and, thus, enable consumers to 
make informed decisions that conform better to their preferences when 
selecting mobile wireless products and services.
    15. An alternative way to estimate the potential benefits of public 
disclosure is to consider the value of services lost each year in 
storms. Superstorm Sandy, for example, caused a substantial loss of 
wireless services. We believe that had providers done more to improve 
infrastructure prior to Superstorm Sandy, a significant number of cell 
site outages could have been prevented, allowing a substantial number 
of wireless subscribers in the path of the storm to avoid loss or 
serious impairment of service. We cannot readily determine the value of 
that lost service, because we cannot know the value of being able to 
call more easily loved ones and friends, among others, during the 
Superstorm and in the days following the destruction. Nor can we know 
the value of more easily reaching firemen, police, repairmen, and other 
first responders.
    16. We can estimate, however, a floor value for lost consumer 
surplus, a portion of which could have been saved had outages been 
avoided. Given the average-revenue-per-subscriber data

[[Page 69022]]

reported by the four major wireless providers for the DIRS reporting 
counties, we estimate very conservatively that cell-site outages 
connected to Superstorm Sandy caused a loss of service for which 
subscribers had paid $25.8 million. This $25.8 million could represent 
what subscribers would normally pay for the lost services, not what 
those services were worth to them. The net benefit of a good to 
consumers (i.e., the consumer surplus) can easily exceed what they pay 
for it. Indeed, a 2012 CTIA study estimates that at the end of 2010, 
consumer surplus was 3.08 times what consumers pay for wireless 
service. Based on these payments estimates and the CTIA study, the 
value of the lost service during Superstorm Sandy alone was at least 
$77.4 million (i.e., $25.8 million x 3 = $77.4 million). Because this 
loss represents the value of such services during normal weather 
conditions, it likely substantially understates the loss of value 
during (and a few days after) a storm, at which time the value of 
access to emergency services and ability to connect with family and 
friends may be much greater. We invite comment on this analysis and the 
reasonableness of its underlying assumptions.

B. The Growing Reliance of the American Public on Mobile Wireless 
Networks

    17. Mobile wireless communications are becoming increasingly 
central to the day-to-day lives of Americans. In its annual Mobile 
Competition Reports, the Commission has documented the tremendous 
growth of the U.S. mobile wireless sector, which now supports over 300 
million user connections. Mobile data traffic in particular ``increased 
270 percent from 2010 to 2011'' in the United States and ``has more 
than doubled each year for the past four years,'' during which time 
mobile wireless service providers have continued to upgrade and expand 
their networks and offer their customers an increasing array of 
``smartphones'' and data-centric devices, such as tablets and e-
readers. As mobile wireless technologies have continued to proliferate 
and evolve, consumers of these services have become increasingly likely 
to ``cut the cord''--to live without residential wireline telephone 
service, as thirty-eight percent of American households already do.
    18. This growing reliance on wireless communications has brought 
these technologies to the forefront of emergency response. As CTIA 
noted in its comments on the Reliability NOI, ``[d]uring the aftermath 
of major disasters, many individuals rely on wireless as their sole 
means of communication because of its mobile nature and the speed in 
which carriers restore service to affected areas.'' With an increasing 
percentage of 911 calls--already measured at 75 percent within the 
State of California--originating on wireless networks, the need for 
reliable wireless service during emergencies is a major public safety 
priority.
    19. While consumers value overall network reliability and quality 
in selecting mobile wireless service providers, they may not be able to 
compare how well different mobile wireless service providers' networks 
withstand and recover from disaster conditions. As previously noted, 
the information made available to the Commission on a non-public basis 
following Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac revealed that not all 
mobile wireless service providers' networks fared the same during the 
storms, and preparatory efforts and investments to harden networks may 
account for some of this discrepancy. We thus seek comment on whether 
mobile wireless customers have adequate means of assessing the 
resiliency and reliability of mobile wireless networks in disaster 
conditions, and whether they have reliable basis for evaluating and 
comparing the network resilience of different mobile wireless service 
providers.

C. The Use of Informational Disclosures To Improve Consumer Choice

    20. We seek comment in this NPRM on the reporting and disclosure of 
information to enable consumers to compare how well various mobile 
wireless networks are able to withstand and recover from disaster 
conditions. There is precedent in the telecommunications sector and in 
other industry contexts for using informational disclosures of this 
sort to enhance consumer welfare and drive product and service 
improvements. A significant recent initiative along these lines is the 
Commission's Measuring Broadband America (MBA) Program, under which the 
Commission tests the actual network speeds delivered to consumers by 
major wireline broadband providers and discloses its findings in a 
series of reports. Those providers that have tested favorably have 
touted the reports' findings in public statements, while at least one 
provider that performed poorly during the initial round of testing 
dramatically improved its performance in time for the second round. In 
this context and others, the disclosure of targeted information appears 
to have driven service improvements, even where the disclosed 
information pertains only to a limited range of the many considerations 
that influence consumer decisionmaking.
    21. Moreover, the Executive Branch has issued guidance on the use 
of informational disclosures as a regulatory tool. A recent executive 
order directed executive branch federal agencies to focus on efforts 
``to identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens 
and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice.'' The OMB Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs then issued a memorandum providing 
guidance on the use of ``smart disclosure,'' a regulatory approach 
defined as ``the timely release of complex information and data in 
standardized, machine-readable formats in ways that enable consumers to 
make informed decisions.'' Such information can be made available 
directly to consumers or be used by third parties to create tools, such 
as mobile phone applications, that can ``greatly reduce the cost to 
consumers of seeking out the relevant information from individual 
companies.'' The purpose of ``smart disclosure'' is to make information 
``not merely available, but also accessible and usable,'' and the 
memorandum suggested that when designing related regulatory 
initiatives, agencies should consider making information as accessible 
as possible to consumers; making the underlying data available in 
machine-readable formats; standardizing the information; providing the 
information to the consumer in a timely manner; ensuring that 
disclosures keep pace with market innovation; promoting 
interoperability among data sets; and preventing disclosure of 
personally identifiable information. We seek comment on whether the 
proposal we set forth and seek comment on below comports with these 
principles.
    22. If the information disclosed is simple and easy to understand, 
that could make it more relevant and accessible to consumers than more 
complex and technical information. We seek comment on these matters. 
The proposal focuses disclosure on a single percentage figure that may 
provide a snapshot of service capabilities in a particular area at a 
given time. This information is collected by the Commission from the 
wireless service providers and considered useful to provide situational 
awareness to federal participants in disaster response, and the metric 
in the disclosures that we propose also has precedent in the 
information that mobile wireless

[[Page 69023]]

providers have chosen to highlight in their own public statements. 
During the course of an emergency in which service is lost, mobile 
wireless providers in the United States often report the percentages of 
operational sites as a means of publicizing their progress in restoring 
service, although such reporting is not standardized.

D. Proposals To Improve Mobile Wireless Network Transparency and 
Resiliency

    23. In this section, we seek comment on specific elements of a 
proposal to improve the transparency and underlying resiliency of 
networks that provide mobile wireless services, by requiring providers 
of these services to provide for public disclosure the percentages of 
sites operational in their networks during major emergencies. We also 
seek comment on possible alternative or complementary measures that 
could improve wireless network resiliency.
1. Proposed Reporting and Disclosure of Percentages of Mobile Wireless 
Network Sites in Operation During Emergencies
    24. The proposed rule in this NPRM would require facilities-based 
CMRS providers to report to the Commission daily on a county-by-county 
basis the percentage of their cell sites that are operational for 
counties in which the Commission has activated DIRS. Under this 
proposal, operational site percentages submitted by each mobile 
wireless service provider would be made available by the Commission on 
its Web site, where consumers could access it directly or where third 
parties could access it for the purpose of incorporating the data into 
private sector platforms, such as news reports or mobile phone 
applications. Appendix A of the NPRM contains draft language of a 
proposed rule. We seek comment on whether this metric provides a 
reasonable means of comparing how well networks withstand emergency 
conditions.
    25. We first seek comment on the extent to which informational 
disclosures of this sort would enhance consumer choice and facilitate 
network improvements. Will consumers value having access to this 
information? Could the information be meaningful and useful to 
consumers in making the choice among mobile wireless service providers, 
and if so, how would it affect their decision making? Would the 
reported information be particularly important to consumers who may 
have heightened concerns about maintaining communications during 
emergencies, such as individuals with serious medical conditions and 
their families? In the absence of the disclosures discussed below, do 
consumers already have sufficient information about service 
reliability, as CTIA suggests?
    26. We also seek comment on whether providing consumers with such 
information would incentivize mobile wireless service providers to 
improve the capability of their network infrastructures to survive and 
continue operating during and after disasters. Is that correct? Would 
the potential that public disclosure would affect consumers' choice of 
mobile wireless service provider cause providers to view additional 
investment in networks as being competitively necessary to attract and 
retain customers? Could press coverage and knowledge by policymakers of 
this information foster improved performance by mobile wireless service 
providers, even if the elasticity of consumer demand for greater 
network reliability during emergencies is difficult to quantify or is 
perceived to be small? In other words, would providers nevertheless 
respond by seeking to improve their performance as a matter of risk 
management, e.g., to avoid reputational risk in both the business and 
consumer markets?
    27. On the other hand, would disclosure of network performance, in 
conjunction with outage reporting, lead to unintended negative 
consequences, such as a reduction of cooperation among providers during 
emergencies or disincentives to build out facilities, particularly in 
areas subject to severe weather? For example, would such disclosures 
favor large-tower architectures over small-cell and other heterogeneous 
architectures where there may be more towers, each more likely to fail 
but more resilient in the aggregate? We seek comment on any unintended 
consequences of adopting such disclosures, with examples of such 
consequences. We ask commenters to explain how likely and widespread 
those consequences would be and describe in detail the anticipated 
impact on consumers and public safety.
    28. Scope. The proposed disclosures apply only to facilities-based 
CMRS providers with respect to sites used to provide CMRS. Is this 
scope reasonable given that the factual basis for the proposal is an 
observed variation in performance among mobile wireless networks in 
particular in their ability to withstand disaster conditions? Moreover, 
because the same companies provide most of the CMRS and mobile data 
services (i.e., mobile broadband) consumed by the U.S. public, using 
much of the same underlying infrastructure, would the proposed 
reporting on CMRS infrastructure enable reasonable judgments to be made 
about the operational status of providers' mobile wireless services 
more generally?
    29. In proposing a reporting requirement applicable only to mobile 
wireless providers, we observe that the great majority of emergency 911 
calls originate on mobile wireless networks, and there has been an 
upward trend in such calls, making mobile wireless service of pre-
eminent importance as the preferred method for U.S. consumers to reach 
out for help when they need it the most. Furthermore, given that most 
markets across the country are served by multiple mobile wireless 
service providers, could disclosures based on the proposed metric have 
a competitive impact that will drive improvements in communications 
infrastructure? Finally, because the metric tracks the performance of 
portions of the network that are within mobile wireless service 
providers' direct control during major emergency events, as opposed to 
outages that are due to consumers' loss of electric power, is this 
proposed application to mobile wireless service providers reasonable? 
We seek comment on our proposed adoption of a reporting metric 
applicable only to CMRS providers. Should we consider changing the 
scope of our proposed reporting and disclosure requirements, or 
developing a separate program, to cover providers in other 
telecommunications sectors, such as wireline telephone or cable 
providers? Are some of those services different in important respects, 
such as whether customer outages are likely to continue due to loss of 
commercial power at the customer's home, rather than within the service 
provider's facilities and network? If so, what would be the rationale 
for applying outage-based reporting obligations to such providers? Is 
there a simple and easily understood metric that could be used for such 
disclosures? Are there better alternatives to foster reliability of 
these other services?
    30. Moreover, as noted above, we use the term ``cell site'' 
throughout this NPRM to refer to any land station used to provide CMRS, 
irrespective of the network configuration under which the site is 
deployed. We seek comment on this usage, which is incorporated into the 
definitions of ``network site'' and ``operational site'' in our 
proposed rule. Do these terms, as defined therein, leave any ambiguity 
as to whether certain facilities would qualify as ``sites'' for 
purposes of calculating percentages of sites in operation? We further 
observe that, as written, the proposal could

[[Page 69024]]

apply to providers that operate networks not deployed under a cellular-
based network architecture. We seek comment on the potential 
applicability of the proposed requirements to such providers. Are the 
requirements well-suited to such providers, particularly any that rely 
on only a small number of sites to provide service in a given area? 
Should we consider exempting certain mobile wireless service providers 
or classes of providers from the proposed requirements? If so, how 
should we determine which providers or classes of providers should be 
exempted?
    31. We also propose that the requirements apply only to facilities-
based mobile wireless providers, i.e., those that own or control at 
least part of the network infrastructure they use to provide service, 
as opposed to merely purchasing and reselling service from other 
providers. We seek comment on this limitation of the scope of the 
proposed requirement. Should mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) 
or other non-facilities-based providers also be required to report 
outage or other information of some kind for public disclosure during 
emergencies? Could the disclosure of information about facilities-based 
providers but not resellers suggest to consumers that facilities-based 
providers are less reliable than MVNOs (even though MVNOs rely on 
facilities-based providers for service)? Would it be feasible for non-
facilities-based providers to ascertain and report percentages of sites 
in operation by county for the underlying network infrastructure they 
use to deliver service? Should such providers instead be required 
simply to disclose with which facilities-based mobile wireless service 
providers they have contracted to provide service in a given area? 
Would extending the reporting obligations and associated disclosures to 
non-facilities-based providers result in additional incentives for 
their underlying facilities-based providers to improve the resiliency 
of their networks?
    32. Reporting Metric. For consumers to make fair and reasonable 
comparisons across providers and services, the information must be 
presented in an accessible and usable form that consumers can process 
and interpret easily without formal training or technical expertise and 
that third parties can incorporate into various informational platforms 
and applications. Our proposal accordingly uses as a standard reporting 
metric the percentage of a mobile wireless service provider's sites 
that are operational, i.e., not put out of service as the result of 
power loss, damage, interruption of transport, or other causal factors. 
We seek comment on the appropriateness of this standardized reporting 
metric as defined. Is there a need to clarify with greater precision 
what it means for a site to be considered ``operational''? Are there 
ambiguous or borderline cases in which a site may or may not be 
considered ``operational'' or ``providing service'' as such terms are 
commonly used? Should providers report percentages rounded to the 
nearest percentage point?
    33. We seek comment on requiring mobile wireless service providers 
to report for public disclosure percentages of operational sites on a 
per-county basis. This is how this information is currently reported in 
DIRS. Reporting by county enables the geographic scope of reporting to 
expand or contract (i.e., by adding or subtracting counties) as a 
disaster unfolds, while preserving a clear baseline for making 
comparisons among providers. We seek comment on whether it is more 
useful to require reporting on a more or less granular level than per-
county, and if so, what level? We also seek comment on whether it would 
be sufficient for reporting providers to specify a single percentage of 
sites operational for a broader affected area than county level, such 
as an aggregate of all of the counties selected for reporting in the 
state?
    34. Should mobile wireless service providers also provide the 
underlying calculation basis to the FCC? Should that happen on a 
presumptively confidential basis? What additional information, if any, 
should providers be required to report for disclosure? Should there be 
a minimum number of cell sites operated by a mobile wireless service 
provider in a county for reporting of the information to be required? 
For example, if a provider has only three sites in a county, would the 
fact that one of these sites is out be probative as a percentage? 
Should the required reporting further take into account variations in 
the types of cell sites a provider deploys, i.e., traditional ``macro'' 
cells vs. femtocells or other types of ``small'' cells. If so, how? 
Does comparing the overall percentage of each wireless service 
provider's sites that are operating adequately address this potential 
concern since each provider could have sites of various types? In 
seeking comment on these matters, we observe that providers themselves 
generally decline to distinguish among various cell site types when 
they report publicly during emergencies the percentages of their sites 
in operation in an affected area.
    35. Should we consider alternative metrics? If so, what are the 
relative costs and benefits of such alternatives in comparison to the 
proposed metric, keeping in mind our stated objectives in this 
proceeding? Should we consider requiring reporting for disclosure along 
more than one metric, or granting mobile wireless service providers 
more flexibility to tailor the content of their reporting to particular 
circumstances? Would such flexibility undermine the ability of 
consumers to compare provider performance readily, thereby defeating 
one of the critical functions of the disclosure requirement? Could the 
proposed requirements foster behavior from mobile wireless service 
providers aimed at ``scoring well'' on the reporting metric, even where 
doing so comes at the expense of allocating resources most effectively? 
How and why might such behavior realistically occur and to what extent? 
Are there likely to be trade-offs in practice between restoration of 
the greatest possible number of sites and restoration of those most 
critical to serving customers? If so, if the proposed metric is used, 
would providers actually delay restoration of the sites that are most 
critical to their customers, notwithstanding that their customers will 
be able to detect whether or not their service is improving? If so, 
under what circumstances would providers engage in these sorts of 
behaviors? Please include specific examples in your comments.
    36. Should we allow a mobile wireless service provider to count as 
a site ``within'' its network any site it actually uses to provide 
service during an emergency, regardless of whether it owns or controls 
the site? What effect would counting sites gained through sharing in 
both the numerator and the denominator of the percentage have on 
providers' incentives to share? Would this counting result in better or 
worse service for consumers as providers work to increase their own 
resiliency? For example, if Provider A has sixty of ninety cell sites 
operating in a certain county, where Provider B has seventy-five of 
ninety operating, they would respectively report that sixty-seven 
percent and eighty-three percent of their sites are operational in that 
county. If each provider granted the other access to its operational 
sites in that county, however, both providers' reported percentages 
would increase substantially: Provider A would report seventy-seven 
percent ((60 + 75) divided by (90 + 75) = 135/165) and Provider B would 
report ninety percent ((75 + 60) divided by (90 + 60) = 135/150) of 
sites operational in the county. We seek

[[Page 69025]]

comment on whether this is the best method for counting such cell sites 
that are provided from one competitor to another. Would such a 
provision appropriately account for sharing arrangements of the sort 
mobile wireless service providers are likely to implement in practice? 
To the extent a ``borrowed'' site effectively replaces a site used 
during normal periods to provide service, should a mobile wireless 
service provider be permitted or required to discount the latter site 
when calculating its percentages of sites in operation? Should a mobile 
wireless service provider be afforded only partial credit for its use 
of a borrowed site, given that it must share use of the site with the 
site's operator (and perhaps with other mobile wireless service 
providers) and the site may not be optimally positioned to perform as a 
site within its network? Should such a site be counted as one-half site 
for purposes of calculating the roaming provider's percentage of sites 
in service?
    37. Rather than include such sites as part of its percentage 
calculations, should a mobile wireless service provider instead report 
separately the extent to which it used roaming or similar arrangements 
to augment its provision of service during an emergency? If so, should 
providers report percentages both with and without adjustments made to 
reflect such arrangements? If a facilities-based mobile wireless 
service provider uses roaming on a routine basis to expand its coverage 
footprint or network capacity in the counties designated for reporting 
during a disaster, should sites operated or controlled by its roaming 
partner within the affected area be counted as part of its network for 
purposes of calculating percentages of sites operational? Are mobile 
wireless service providers likely to have visibility into the 
operational status of individual sites they routinely use on a roaming 
basis to provide service to their customers?
    38. Additionally, the proposal would allow providers to count as 
sites within their network any temporary sites, e.g., Cells on Wheels 
(COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), that they have deployed to 
provide supplementary coverage and capacity during an emergency. We 
seek comment on this proposed treatment of temporarily deployed sites. 
Rather than be counted as full sites, should such sites be counted on a 
fractional basis, e.g., as one-half of a site, given any attributes of 
COWs and COLTs such as coverage limitations? If a mobile wireless 
service provider uses a COW or a COLT to replace a disabled site 
entirely, should it be required to count the disabled site in the 
percentage? Given the operational complexities involved in deploying 
these sites, and their provisional and temporary nature, would it be 
more appropriate for mobile wireless service providers to report 
separately the extent to which temporary infrastructure is being used 
to augment their provision of service during an emergency?
    39. We seek comment on the appropriateness of the proposed metric. 
First, we seek comment on whether consumers are likely to find the 
metric useful or if a different metric better serve consumer needs. 
Could the proposed metric unintentionally mislead consumers? For 
example, might consumers think that the percentage of inoperable sites 
within a county equals the percentage of lost coverage? Could the 
presence of overlapping coverage, heterogeneous architectures, and 
roaming arrangements with other carriers and other factors like Wi-Fi 
offload mean there is no one-to-one correlation between inoperable 
sites and lost coverage or capacity? If so, could reporting lead 
consumers to think that some carriers perform particularly well or 
particularly poorly even if both carriers end of with effectively the 
same coverage and capacity as one another throughout a disaster? How 
likely is it that providers reporting widely diverging percentages of 
sites in operation in a given county would be providing their customers 
with comparable levels of service within that county?
    40. Second, will consumers find this metric easy to understand, 
given that all mobile wireless service providers would report a single 
number on a one-hundred-point scale, with higher reported numbers 
representing a higher proportion of sites in service? Does the metric 
require only minimal effort from consumers to process such information 
and use it to make comparisons among mobile wireless service providers?
    41. Third, we seek comment on whether the percentage of cell sites 
that are operational would provide a substantively reasonable metric 
that consumers can use to compare the resiliency of wireless networks 
and services. Although the percentage of operational cell sites may not 
correlate precisely to the availability of service, as a general 
matter, the disabling of any site may at least marginally impair the 
ability of a network to deliver service to customers in the area 
covered by the site, and the cumulative impairment of service is likely 
to increase as the percentage of operational cell sites decreases. 
Thus, are significant differences in percentages between providers 
likely to reflect real differences in the level of service provided to 
customers? Moreover, are such differences likely to be most apparent 
during major disasters? Are such circumstances likely to coincide with 
increases in attempts to communicate over mobile wireless networks, 
which would amplify the significance of any disparities among providers 
in the percentages of sites they have in operation? On the other hand, 
is it possible that the proposed metric risks overstating the degree to 
which cell site outages affect service availability? If so, are there 
potential modifications that could be made to the metric to avoid this 
potential risk?
    42. The reporting of percentages rather than absolute numbers of 
sites in operation seems likely to provide a better means for comparing 
relative performance across mobile wireless service providers because 
it can account for variations in the propagation characteristics of the 
spectrum bands in which they operate and the boundaries of mobile 
wireless service provider service territories. We seek comment on this 
issue.
    43. We recognize that the proposed metric potentially has its 
limitations. Modern mobile wireless networks are complex enterprises, 
and the technologies that support them continue to evolve at a rapid 
pace. If we adopt a rule like the proposal, we would expect to review 
it periodically as technologies evolve to assess its continued 
effectiveness, and to determine if there are complementary or better 
ways to obtain and provide useful information for comparing the 
resiliency of mobile wireless networks. The proposed metric does not 
specifically address emerging trends in network design that PCIA 
identifies, such as the proliferation of ``small'' cells or distributed 
antenna systems (DAS), that could improve network performance. As 
providers continue to deploy a more diverse mix of cell types in their 
networks, there could be increasing numbers of cell sites that cannot 
feasibly be equipped with generators or dedicated sources of backup 
power. That said, is it clear whether such design attributes are being 
developed and implemented widely throughout the industry, or whether 
there currently are significant divergences among providers in how they 
design and configure their networks that would suggest the need for 
more or more complex metrics that specifically take these potential 
complications into account as PCIA suggests? Along the same lines, 
providers uniformly cite the need to prioritize restoration of their 
most critical sites when responding to a

[[Page 69026]]

disaster; would the proposed metric affect this practice. Also, as 
noted, providers themselves continue to provide the percentage of sites 
operational to the public from time to time during disasters, and 
federal agencies continue to use these figures to provide situational 
awareness. We seek comment on these issues. Could such disclosures 
provide a reasonable basis for making comparisons among providers even 
if the metric is not perfectly suited to informing consumers exactly 
how providers would compare in serving them at any specific location?
    44. We seek comment on what metric would provide consumers with the 
best picture of a network's operational status. For instance, could the 
proposed metric provide a better indication of overall network health 
than would a purely coverage-based metric--even if accompanied by 
detailed coverage maps, etc.--given that the mere availability of 
coverage in an area does not guarantee network capacity sufficient to 
provide reliable service? What about a metric that focuses on the 
volume or percentage of access failures (i.e., ``blocked calls'') 
experienced by a network? Is such a metric feasible, given that 
increases in the volume of traffic in the radio access network can 
limit the extent to which such measurements can be taken reliably? Does 
the proposed metric, on the other hand, provide information relevant to 
assessing both network coverage and the probability of completing a 
call? As the percentage of its cell sites in service decreases 
significantly, is a provider increasingly likely to experience both 
gaps in coverage and diminished capacity? Are providers suffering 
extensive site outages likely to avoid noticeable deteriorations in 
service, particularly in relation to competitors that are operating at 
significantly closer to full capacity? Are there more technically 
precise or sophisticated informational disclosures the Commission 
should consider that as easily enable consumers to make comparisons in 
disasters, in combination with or instead of the proposed metric?
    45. Timing and Frequency. Under the proposal, DIRS activation would 
be the trigger for the reporting obligations. That is, beginning with 
the activation of DIRS and for the period that DIRS is active, mobile 
wireless service providers operating in counties subject to the DIRS 
activation would be required to report for public disclosure on a daily 
basis the percentage of their sites within such counties that are 
``operational'' as we have defined that term. In effect, DIRS 
activation could define both the temporal and geographic scope of 
``emergencies'' under which mobile wireless service providers would be 
required to report this information. The proposal would require such 
information to be submitted during any DIRS activation that is 
announced by means of a public notice, whether considered a full or 
partial activation. This may be appropriate, given DIRS's function as a 
forum for ``report[ing] communications infrastructure status and 
situational awareness information during times of crisis.'' Moreover, 
DIRS is a well-established reporting system in which almost all major 
mobile wireless service providers widely participate; those providers 
that have contact information on file are notified directly of 
activations, while others can be notified by means of public notice. In 
addition, the overall extent of communications outages and impacts 
encountered during an event is a primary factor that drives the 
decision to activate DIRS; accordingly, we would expect that tying the 
proposed reporting to activation of DIRS would focus the reporting on 
circumstances in which it is most likely to generate meaningful 
information for consumers on the comparative resiliency of mobile 
wireless networks. As a practical matter, it is not atypical for DIRS 
to be activated only a few times each year; in the latter half of 2012, 
for instance, DIRS was activated in whole or in part only in connection 
with the ``derecho'' storm, Hurricane Isaac, and Superstorm Sandy. We 
seek comment on the proposal to use activation of DIRS as a trigger for 
the reporting we propose in this NPRM. Given the projected frequency of 
DIRS activations based on past experience, should we consider modifying 
the obligation so that reporting would be triggered more frequently? 
What would be the advantages, if any, of more frequent reporting? Would 
such advantages outweigh the benefits of tying the reporting to 
activation of DIRS? If so, how?
    46. If reporting and disclosures are tied to DIRS activation, the 
proposal would require providers to report the specified information 
once every twenty-four hours while the DIRS system remains active. 
These daily updates would enable consumers to assess the overall 
trajectory of a mobile wireless service provider's network outages and 
restoration efforts during an emergency without subjecting the mobile 
wireless service provider to overly burdensome reporting obligations. 
We seek comment on this frequency of reporting. Would such reporting 
fail to capture ``critical factors'' such as those CTIA identifies, 
including ``a provider's service restoration practices that can make 
the information outdated in a matter of hours and the reliability of 
the network during the overwhelming majority of time that DIRS is not 
activated?'' Would reporting on a daily basis provide a sufficiently 
detailed picture for the overall recovery progress of a provider in 
responding to a disaster? Could the reporting provide valuable 
information about network resiliency during major disasters, even if 
does not address network performance during normal periods of 
operation? On the other hand, would making the proposed reporting less 
frequent than once a day discourage providers from keeping up with the 
daily cycle established for DIRS reporting, leading to reduced 
situational awareness during disasters?
    47. DIRS participants typically provide status updates in DIRS once 
each day, so adopting a similar schedule for the proposed reporting may 
generate efficiencies for mobile wireless service providers that 
participate already in DIRS. To further standardize such reporting and 
align it with DIRS reporting practices, all reports of operational site 
percentages would be submitted at a time of day specified by the 
Commission in the public notice announcing the DIRS activation. We seek 
comment on these aspects of the proposal.
    48. Recognizing that service restoration during an emergency is a 
complex and dynamic process, should we require providers to make 
``reasonable efforts'' to ensure that submitted information is current 
and accurate as of the time of filing. To what extent would it differ 
from carriers do now in reporting under DIRS? Should we consider 
specifying in more detail the ``reasonable efforts'' required from 
providers in verifying the currency and accuracy of submitted 
information? Should we require providers to submit unsworn declarations 
attesting to the accuracy of their submissions? We seek comment on this 
aspect of the proposal.
    49. We seek comment on this proposed frequency and schedule for 
reporting of percentages of sites in operation. Would a requirement to 
report operational site percentages during an emergency, 
notwithstanding the voluntary reporting that providers already engage 
in on the same timetable, significantly divert resources away from 
service restoration or other emergency response activities? If so, how? 
Should the Commission consider granting providers additional time to 
report this information? If so, how long? Would delay in publication of 
such information diminish its significance and utility for

[[Page 69027]]

consumers or impact whether its disclosure would likely drive provider 
improvements in reliability during disasters? Are consumers more likely 
to consider such information as a basis for comparing and selecting 
among providers if the information is made available to them during or 
shortly after a disaster?
    50. Finally, the proposal's reporting and associated disclosures 
would be programmatically separate from DIRS, and their implementation 
would leave intact the scope, confidentiality presumptions, and other 
operational parameters of DIRS. The proposal would make public only a 
subset of information that can be derived from information contained in 
DIRS filings, i.e., percentages of sites in operation by county, but 
they would not make publicly available any DIRS information per se. 
Would the proposal's disclosures be consistent with the overarching 
purposes of DIRS? Would they threaten the effectiveness of this 
important, voluntary program? If so, how? The Commission established a 
presumption of confidentiality protection for DIRS information when it 
created the program in 2007 in recognition of the fact that ``DIRS 
filings voluntarily report weaknesses in and damages to the national 
communications infrastructure.'' The public disclosure of such 
information, we then determined, could ``potentially facilitate 
terrorist targeting of critical infrastructure and key resources'' or 
``competitively harm the filers by revealing information about the 
types and deployment of their equipment and the traffic.'' The network-
level public disclosures of operational site percentages by county, 
however, would not require providers to reveal information about the 
status of any individual site that could render it more vulnerable to 
attack, and thus it does not appear that the proposed disclosure could 
be used to facilitate destructive acts against a provider's network. 
Similarly, the proposal does not require disclosure of potentially 
competitively sensitive information about specific deployment and 
operational practices, which have typically been accorded confidential 
treatment. Rather, the type of disclosures we propose--percentages of 
sites in operation by provider--is consistent with the public 
disclosures that competitors often make of the general performance of 
their products or services. We seek comment on these issues.
    51. In addition, we seek comment on the extent to which the 
disclosures proposed in this NPRM or similar proposals could have any 
unintended impact on DIRS reporting. Could such disclosures impair the 
ability of the Commission to obtain detailed DIRS reports from mobile 
wireless service providers in the future, or otherwise detract from the 
effectiveness of the DIRS program? Are there steps the Commission could 
take to mitigate any such unintended impacts? Are there effective 
alternative reporting metrics that would not require disclosure of 
information that may be presumed confidential?
    52. The competitive concerns that partially underlie the 
confidential treatment afforded to DIRS and NORS filings may be 
inapposite in this proceeding. In establishing confidentiality 
protections for NORS filings, the Commission acknowledged the concerns 
of some providers that publicly reported outage information ``[h]ad 
been used by competitors to wage marketing campaigns.'' The limited 
informational disclosures may apply competitive pressure to providers 
to bolster the resiliency of their mobile wireless network 
infrastructure. Accordingly, would the incorporation of such disclosed 
information into ``marketing campaigns'' improve public safety rather 
than detract from the effectiveness of these disclosures? Moreover, the 
proposal's disclosure would not likely contain trade secrets or other 
privileged information, such that its disclosure would compromise the 
operation of the mobile wireless marketplace. In reporting its 
percentages of sites in operation, a provider would not be required to 
reveal anything about its underlying practices or techniques for 
achieving network resiliency. The focus of the reporting is on 
outcomes--how well networks withstand disaster conditions--not on the 
business judgments or other factors that determine these outcomes. 
Would such disclosures discourage competition or innovation? Would such 
disclosures encourage more robust competition among providers to 
improve the resiliency of their networks? In short, would such 
disclosures improve consumer welfare? We seek comment on these 
questions.
    53. Manner of Disclosure and Associated Recordkeeping. The proposal 
would require that mobile wireless service providers report their 
operational site percentages to the Commission in a machine-readable 
format. The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, with any 
necessary support from other bureaus and offices, would compile the 
reported information and to post it on the Commission Web site in an 
easily accessed location, in a format that enables comparisons to be 
made among providers. We seek comment on ensuring that reported 
information is effectively disclosed and made available to consumers. 
Could the Commission undertake additional efforts to make the 
information more accessible to consumers or to third parties that may 
seek to incorporate the information into ``apps'' or other tools for 
consumers? How likely is it that mobile wireless service providers 
would also provide additional information and analyses by other means, 
including by posting it on their Web sites or citing it in press 
releases or advertisements.
    54. We seek comment on whether we should establish rules requiring 
providers to maintain adequate records for some limited period of time 
of the internal processes and deliberations that support the 
operational site percentages or any other information they are required 
to report. If so, what sorts of records should we require providers to 
keep, and in what form? What time period for retention might be 
sufficient and why? Do providers already keep records of information 
that supports their reporting in DIRS? If so, what sorts of records and 
for how long? Are there incentives for providers to voluntarily keep 
records, for instance, to provide evidentiary support for their 
reported percentages in the event of a dispute or enforcement action? 
What costs and benefits would be associated with the adoption of any 
recordkeeping requirements the Commission might adopt? Are there ways 
of minimizing such costs while ensuring that adequate records are kept?
    55. Applicability to Smaller Mobile Wireless Service Providers. 
Finally, we seek comment on the applicability of the proposed reporting 
obligations and associated disclosures to smaller mobile wireless 
service providers. We observe that many small mobile wireless service 
providers routinely file daily reports in DIRS as do larger providers. 
We seek comment on whether it would be particularly costly or difficult 
for smaller mobile wireless service providers to comply with these 
proposed obligations or similar ones. Should our requirements make 
special provisions for these mobile wireless service providers? Do they 
need extended periods of time in which to report the information and, 
if so, why? Would relaxed treatment for smaller providers unfairly 
limit their customers' ability to compare their providers' performance 
with that of their competitors? If we decide that smaller mobile 
wireless service providers merit special treatment under our rules, how 
should we delineate this class of mobile

[[Page 69028]]

wireless service providers? In seeking comment on these matters, we 
observe that the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended, (RFA) 
specifically directs us to consider the effects of proposed rules on 
small entities. Our Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is set 
forth as Appendix B.
    56. Further Study. Alternatively, should the Commission refer the 
question of providing greater transparency into network recovery 
efforts of CMRS providers to CSRIC or TAC before adopting any reporting 
or disclosure requirements? Are there some issues that should be carved 
off for further study while the Commission proceeds with others? Why? 
We ask that commenters define with specificity any issue on which 
either advisory body should be charged with developing recommendations, 
the timing anticipated for such work, and the value that such 
recommendations would be expected to provide. Could the efforts of 
CSRIC and TAC effectively lead to similar benefits for consumers and 
improvements to network resiliency that the proposed reporting in this 
NPRM is aimed at providing?
2. Other Measures
    57. We also seek comment on whether there are alternative or 
complementary measures for improving wireless network reliability that 
the Commission should consider in this proceeding or subsequently. 
Commenters identifying such measures should address their associated 
costs and benefits, and whether such measures should be considered as 
alternatives to or as complements of the reporting and disclosures we 
propose in this NPRM.
    58. Alternative Informational Disclosures. We first seek comment on 
whether the Commission should consider informational disclosures that 
differ in kind from the sorts of disclosures we have proposed. One 
possibility is to require mobile wireless providers to make available, 
as many electrical utilities already do, outage maps that document the 
availability of coverage within their service territories on an ongoing 
basis. We seek comment on adopting a requirement that mobile wireless 
providers make such maps available, during disasters and perhaps during 
normal periods of operation as well. How burdensome would it be to 
provide such maps, and how useful would they be to consumers?
    59. Another possibility is that the Commission require mobile 
wireless service providers to report or disclose information about the 
practices they have implemented to promote the reliability of their 
networks. Under this option, the Commission might require mobile 
wireless service providers to report detailed information about their 
provisioning of back-up power (e.g., percentages of sites equipped, 
duration of supply, technologies used) as well as available 
supplementary deployments (e.g., quantities of COWs and COLTs, portable 
generators) they undertake to improve the resiliency of their networks. 
Were we to require disclosures along these lines, would consumers be 
able to understand and use the information to draw reasonable 
inferences about the comparative resiliency of wireless networks, or 
would such disclosures inundate consumers with more information than 
they could reasonably be expected to process? Would consumers 
understand which of these practices lead to different results, or is it 
preferable to focus on public reporting of a simple measure of 
comparative results among providers rather than on a number of 
dimensions of preparation? Would public disclosure of certain details 
of a provider's plans and resources for handling emergency situations 
pose a security risk? Are there other types of informational 
disclosures we have not identified, consistent with sound security 
policies, that would be useful to consumers or would otherwise advance 
network reliability? Are there less costly or less burdensome 
alternative measures that would accomplish the same intended objectives 
as the proposal?
    60. Relationship with Mobile MBA Program. Next, we seek comment on 
the interplay between the reporting and disclosures proposed herein and 
the Commission's Mobile Measuring Broadband America (Mobile MBA) 
program. Under the Mobile MBA program, mobile wireless customers will 
voluntarily install an ``app'' that enables their devices to take 
direct measurements of network performance (e.g., throughput, latency, 
cell site availability) at specified intervals and upload the data to a 
central server. Such a program could complement or replace the proposed 
disclosures by providing information on day-to-day network performance. 
We seek comment on the relationship between the two initiatives. Could 
the robust implementation of the Mobile MBA program eventually generate 
sufficient participation and information that would obviate the need 
for mobile wireless service provider reporting and associated 
disclosures of the sort we envision in this NPRM? Are there additional 
ways in which the two programs can serve complementary purposes? If so, 
how?
    61. Performance Standards. In its May 13 letter, Consumers Union 
recommends that the Commission use reporting metrics such as those 
considered herein ``to set a schedule for phasing in improved 
performance standards as rapidly as possible.'' As an initial matter, 
we seek comment on whether successful implementation of the proposed 
reporting and disclosure rule could obviate the need for adoption of 
such standards. Would reporting and disclosure alone be sufficient to 
facilitate wireless network resiliency while enabling wireless 
providers to maintain the operational flexibility they claim is 
necessary to effectively implement back-up power solutions? 
Alternatively, should we consider performance standards of the sort 
Consumers Union proposes? Would the burden and cost of adopting 
performance standards exceed the benefits, particularly given the 
frequency or infrequency, or duration, of commercial power outages? 
Could the Commission take other complementary steps, short of adopting 
specific requirements, to encourage mobile wireless service providers 
to provide more robust back-up power for their cell sites or other 
critical communications facilities?
    62. If we should consider performance standards as a possible 
alternative, we seek comment on what form such standards should take. 
For example, should we consider emergency back-up power requirements 
similar to the requirements the Commission previously adopted for 
mobile wireless networks but never made effective? Could we grant 
mobile wireless service providers greater flexibility than the previous 
rule, for example, by applying global back-up power standards to 
networks as a whole rather than to each individual site? If we were to 
specify a minimum duration for provision of back-up power, what would 
be a reasonable threshold, taking into consideration the capability of 
currently available back-up power technologies, including batteries? 
Since loss of backhaul service (i.e., the connectivity between a site 
and the rest of the network) is also a major cause of cell site 
unavailability during emergencies, should the Commission consider 
adoption of performance standards to promote more redundant backhaul 
provisioning and what should those standards include? What are the 
incremental benefits of such standards and do they exceed the costs and 
burdens? Finally, if performance standards are appropriate, should we

[[Page 69029]]

consider phasing in such standards over time?
    63. Voluntary Industry Measures. We also seek comment on whether 
heightened transparency and resiliency of mobile wireless networks 
could be achieved adequately through voluntary measures. We note one 
recent example of voluntary measures undertaken by industry to address 
consumer issues by empowering consumers through greater transparency. 
In light of concerns that substantial numbers of wireless consumers had 
experienced ``Bill Shock''--a sudden, unexpected increase in their 
wireless bills--the Commission in October 2010 proposed rules requiring 
carriers to alert consumers as they approach, and again as they reach 
limits of plan minutes, texts, data, and international roaming. In 
October 2011, the Commission announced an agreement between it, 
Consumers Union, CTIA, and certain wireless carriers that these 
carriers would provide free, automatic Bill Shock alerts on a voluntary 
basis, pursuant to CTIA's Code of Conduct. The alert requirements were 
phased in, culminating in the April 2013 announcement that all 
participating carriers now provide the alerts as promised. As a result, 
CTIA states that approximately 97 percent of consumers are protected 
against Bill Shock for voice, text, data, and international roaming 
services. The Commission established a Web site to enable consumers to 
easily identify participating carriers' specific Bill Shock alert 
policies and thresholds.
    64. We seek comment on whether a similar voluntary initiative might 
feasibly achieve the improvements to consumer choice and network 
resiliency that are the objectives of this proceeding. If so, how might 
such an initiative work in practice? Could a voluntary initiative 
involving wireless industry and consumer advocacy groups timely develop 
additional or improved metrics about service availability and network 
performance during natural disasters that result in extensive service 
outages that would meet the objectives of providing consumers with 
information that they may find useful, and spurring comparisons and 
competition that result in greater reliability? Would such an 
initiative be likely to produce candid and transparent reporting of 
information to consumers, even from providers that must report poor 
performance? Additionally, are there opportunities for public-private 
initiatives that could help achieve the objectives? Could a real-time 
crowdsourcing approach work?

E. Legal Authority

1. Statutory Considerations
    65. We seek comment on whether reporting requirements of the sort 
proposed in this NPRM would be within the Commission's authority under 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. In particular, we note that 
section 201(b) the Act authorizes the Commission to ``prescribe rules 
and regulations as may be necessary in the public interest to carry out 
the provisions'' of the Act. These provisions include the requirement 
that the practices of common carriers, including CMRS providers, are 
``just and reasonable'' and not ``unjust or unreasonable.'' The 
Commission has asserted this authority in other contexts as a basis for 
requiring carriers to make available to the public information that 
enables consumers to make informed decisions about whether to purchase 
or retain a service. To the extent they promote ``just and reasonable'' 
practices relating to the resiliency of mobile wireless networks during 
emergencies, would the reporting and disclosures proposed in this NPRM, 
or similar proposals, advance the foundational purpose of the 
Commission articulated in section 1 of the Communications Act, namely 
that of ``promoting the safety of life and property through the use of 
wire and radio communications''?
    66. Are there other Title II or Title III provisions that would 
provide a legal basis for the adoption of requirements of the sort we 
propose insofar as they extend to the provision of CMRS services? Could 
such mandatory reporting of network reliability data for public 
disclosure be grounded in section 214(d)'s requirement that a common 
carrier ``provide itself with adequate facilities for the expeditious 
and efficient performance of its service as a common carrier'' and to 
``undertake improvements in facilities'' to meet public demand? Would 
the proposed requirements also fall within the Commission's authority 
under section 218 to obtain from common carriers ``full and complete 
information necessary to enable the Commission to perform the duties 
and carry out the objects for which it was created?'' With respect to 
CMRS service, would such proposals be within the scope of our ``broad 
authority'' under Title III? We seek comment in particular on the 
applicability of sections 301 and 316, and our authority under section 
303(b) to ``[p]rescribe the nature of the service to be rendered by 
each class of licensed stations and each station within any class.'' 
Section 301 provides for licensing of CMRS providers, and section 316 
authorizes the Commission to modify such licenses ``if in the judgment 
of the Commission such action will promote the public interest, 
convenience, and necessity.'' Would the foregoing sources of authority, 
when coupled with our authority to ``generally encourage the larger and 
more effective use of radio in the public interest,'' and to adopt 
rules ``as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of th[e] Act,'' 
extend to the proposed disclosure requirements, as less restrictive 
ways of promoting more reliable service by wireless providers?
    67. Also, we seek comment on the applicability of the Commission's 
authority over 911 service. The Nation's 911 system is part of its 
critical communications infrastructure, and the Commission plays a key 
role ensuring that the communications networks, including those of 
mobile wireless service providers, promote public safety, especially on 
matters involving national security and emergency preparedness of the 
United States. Indeed, Congress established the Commission in part to 
promote the ``safety of life and property.'' Consequently, the 
Commission also enjoys ``broad public safety and 9-1-1 authority.'' 
With mobile wireless service subscribers originating an increasing 
share of the nation's 911 calls--already the great majority and 
measured at as high as 75 percent in some areas--the resiliency of 
mobile wireless networks is becoming ever more critical to the reliable 
provision of 911 service. Accordingly, we seek comment on the extent to 
which the Commission's authority over 911 service could provide 
additional support for the adoption of requirements proposed in this 
NPRM or similar requirements.
2. First Amendment
    68. We seek comment on whether the reporting requirements proposed 
in this NPRM, like the ``anti-cramming'' rules the Commission adopted 
in 2012, could withstand scrutiny under the First Amendment to the U.S. 
Constitution. In general, government regulation of commercial speech 
will be found compatible with the First Amendment if it meets the 
criteria laid out in Central Hudson: (1) There is a substantial 
government interest; (2) the regulation directly advances the 
substantial government interest; and (3) the proposed regulation is not 
more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. Under the 
standard set forth in Zauderer, compelled disclosure of ``purely 
factual and uncontroversial'' information is permissible if 
``reasonably related to the State's

[[Page 69030]]

interest in preventing deception of consumers.'' We seek comment on 
which of these two standards, or any other standard, would apply to the 
proposals set forth in this NPRM, and whether the proposals would 
satisfy that standard.
    69. In particular, we seek comment on whether reporting obligations 
of the sort we propose in this NPRM would meet the Central Hudson 
criteria. The Commission has previously observed that ``the government 
has a substantial interest in ensuring that consumers are able to make 
intelligent and well-informed commercial decisions in an increasingly 
competitive marketplace.'' The government also has a substantial 
interest, enshrined in section 1 of the Communications Act, in 
protecting the safety of the public through the use of radio 
communications. We seek comment on whether the reporting requirement 
proposed in this NPRM would directly advance these interests by making 
available for public disclosure information about the operational 
status of mobile wireless networks during emergencies, where designed 
to create incentives for mobile wireless service providers to improve 
the resiliency of these networks. What sort of additional factual 
record, if any, would the Commission need to develop to establish that 
the proposed reporting ``directly advances'' these substantial 
government interests?
    70. We note that the proposed requirements would require reporting 
only of a single, fact-based metric, one that can be calculated from 
information that providers already tabulate and routinely report in 
DIRS filings. Such regulation is different in kind from minimum back-up 
power requirements previously adopted by the Commission, or other forms 
of direct regulation of wireless network facilities or practices. 
Moreover, in other contexts the proposed reporting of information to 
the government for purposes of compilation and disclosure that has been 
deemed less restrictive than requiring ``companies themselves to 
publicly post detailed information in a particular format.'' In 
addition, we observe that the proposed reporting would in no way 
restrict providers from disclosing information of their own choosing 
directly to the public, as many already do, to provide a fuller context 
for assessing the performance of their networks during an emergency. We 
seek comment on the relevance of these considerations.
    71. Finally, we seek comment on the applicability of the Zauderer 
standard to reporting obligations of the sort proposed in this NPRM. 
Would the reported information qualify as ``purely factual and 
uncontroversial,'' provided that the reporting metric is defined with 
sufficient clarity and precision? Would the prevailing usage of 
operational site percentages among providers as a means of reporting 
progress in disaster recovery undermine any claim that such information 
is non-factual or controversial? Could the proposed reporting be 
construed as being ``reasonably related to the State's interest in 
preventing deception of customers?'' What sort of additional factual 
record, if any, would the Commission need to develop to establish such 
a relationship? Could such a relationship be established even in the 
absence of evidence of any intent to deceive? For instance, would the 
proposed reporting ``reasonably relate[]'' to preventing deception of 
customers insofar as disclosure of the reported information alerts 
customers to deficiencies in network resiliency of which they were 
previously unaware and which may have affected their prior purchasing 
decisions had the information been made available to them? Are there 
are other ways of establishing a reasonable relationship between 
reporting of the sort we propose and the prevention of consumer 
deception?

Procedural Matters

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended 
(RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities by the recommendations in this 
Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). Written public comments are 
requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the 
IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided in 
``Comment Period and Procedures'' of this NPRM. The Commission will 
send a copy of this NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the 
NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal 
Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    72. The American public relies increasingly on mobile wireless 
networks to communicate, with the great majority of calls to 911 
already originating on wireless networks and a large and growing number 
of households having only wireless phones. Notwithstanding these 
trends, during Superstorm Sandy and other recent storms, mobile 
wireless networks suffered extensive site outages, seriously impairing 
the ability of millions of customers to summon emergency assistance, 
receive emergency information, and reach their loved ones. Although 
some service disruptions may be unavoidable during a major emergency, 
and surges in demand for wireless service at those times present added 
challenges, the current state of affairs is not acceptable and requires 
action. We believe that better service and hardening of mobile wireless 
networks is feasible and could dramatically reduce the severity of 
these problems, which are not incurred in equal measure by all mobile 
wireless providers.
    73. Accordingly, our central proposal in this NPRM is to require 
facilities-based commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers to 
report to the Commission for public disclosure, on a daily basis during 
and following major emergencies, the percentage of cell sites within 
their networks that are providing CMRS. These disclosures would be made 
for each county in the designated disaster area. This information is 
currently included in voluntary reports provided electronically to the 
Commission by mobile wireless service providers in disasters, but on a 
presumptively confidential basis. For the reasons discussed below, we 
believe that requiring reporting and public disclosure of the 
information proposed could benefit consumers while also advancing 
public safety. First, public disclosure could enable consumers to 
reasonably compare the performance of mobile wireless service providers 
on a sufficiently similar basis during major emergencies to help 
consumers to make more informed decisions when selecting mobile 
wireless products and services. Second, empowering consumers with this 
information on an ongoing basis could in turn apply competitive 
pressure on mobile wireless service providers to invest in material 
improvements to their respective network infrastructures or take other 
actions to improve the reliability and resiliency of their networks. 
Third, the standardized disclosure of such information could provide 
policymakers with useful information and potentially spark an honest 
and more informed public safety and communications dialogue, perhaps 
including consideration of possible barriers to greater reliability of 
mobile wireless networks.
    74. In addition to seeking comments below on specific transparency

[[Page 69031]]

proposals, we also explore alternative or complementary approaches and 
seek more general comment on other steps the Commission could take if 
necessary to achieve the goals of greater mobile wireless network 
transparency and reliability.

B. Legal Basis

    75. The legal basis for the rules and rule changes proposed in this 
NPRM are contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 4(o), 201(b), 214(d), 
218, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(j), 303(r), 307, 309(a), 
309(j), 316, 332, 403, 615a-1, and 615c of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 154(o), 201(b), 
214(d), 218, 251(e)(3), 301, 303(b), 303(g), 303(j), 303(r), 307, 
309(a), 309(j), 316, 332, 403, 615a-1, and 615c.

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
Rules Will Apply

    76. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, 
where feasible, an estimate of, the number of small entities that may 
be affected by the proposed rules adopted herein. The RFA generally 
defines the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the 
terms ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small 
governmental jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' 
has the same meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the 
Small Business Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is 
independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of 
operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the 
Small Business Administration (SBA).
    77. Our action may, over time, affect small entities that are not 
easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here, at the 
outset, three comprehensive, statutory small entity size standards. 
First, nationwide, there are a total of approximately 27.9 million 
small businesses, according to the SBA. In addition, a ``small 
organization'' is generally ``any not-for-profit enterprise which is 
independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' 
Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,315 small 
organizations. Finally, the term ``small governmental jurisdiction'' is 
defined generally as ``governments of cities, towns, townships, 
villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of 
less than fifty thousand.'' Census Bureau data for 2011 indicate that 
there were 89,476 local governmental jurisdictions in the United 
States. We estimate that, of this total, as many as 88,506 entities may 
qualify as ``small governmental jurisdictions.'' Thus, we estimate that 
most governmental jurisdictions are small.
    78. The disclosure obligations proposed in the NPRM would apply 
exclusively to facilities-based CMRS providers, i.e., providers of CMRS 
that own or operate at least part of the network infrastructure that 
provides the service. The SBA size standard that most clearly applies 
to this class of providers is that established for Wireless 
Telecommunications Carriers. Under that standard, a business with 1,500 
of fewer employees is considered small. Census Bureau data for 2007 
show that there were 1,383 firms in this category that operated for the 
entire year. Of this total, 1,368 had employment of 999 or fewer, and 
15 firms had had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus under this 
category and the associated small business size standard, the majority 
of these Wireless Telecommunications Carriers can be considered small.

D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    79. The NPRM proposes requiring mobile wireless providers to submit 
to the Commission for purposes of public disclosure, on a daily basis 
during designated emergencies, the percentage of their cell sites in 
each affected county that are operational. Providers would need to make 
``reasonable efforts'' to ensure that such disclosures are accurate and 
up-to-date as of the time they are made. A large number of CMRS 
providers, including many smaller providers, already report such 
information on cell site outages in DIRS. In the NPRM, however, we have 
estimated the costs the proposed requirements would impose on providers 
that do not currently provide such information in DIRS. We have 
estimated that a $78,000 total nationwide annual expense would be 
imposed on an assumed fifty additional providers that currently are not 
reporting DIRS data, many of whom would likely qualify as small. Under 
this estimate, an average of only $1,560 in annual costs would be 
imposed on each provider, of which there would be only fifty--out of an 
estimated 1,368 small providers--and not all of whom would necessarily 
qualify as small. We therefore do not believe that the proposal would 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. We seek comment on this analysis.
    80. In addition, the NPRM seeks comment on whether there is a need 
to impose requirements on providers to keep adequate records of the 
internal processes and deliberations that support their required 
disclosures. The NPRM seeks comment on ways of minimizing the costs of 
any such recordkeeping, and on whether providers have adequate 
incentives to keep such records voluntarily (i.e., to ensure there is 
adequate evidentiary support for their disclosures in the context of an 
enforcement proceeding).

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    81. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include (among others) the following four alternatives: (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    82. The disclosure obligations we do propose are minimally 
extensive, and for several reasons we do not believe that their 
implementation would have a significant economic impact on any mobile 
wireless providers, including those that qualify as small. First, the 
disclosures would be required only during serious emergencies, and even 
then only once a day. The content of the disclosure, a single 
percentage figure for each affected county, is minimal both in terms of 
size and complexity. Also, the information subject to disclosure is 
already routinely reported on a voluntary basis by mobile wireless 
providers, including many small providers, in the Commission's Disaster 
Information Reporting System (DIRS). For such providers, compliance 
with the reporting obligation would require no additional effort. We 
further observe that the disclosure requirement would not prescribe a 
design standard, as providers would be required to report statistics on 
the resiliency of their networks but retain wide flexibility to 
implement the strategies they deem most effective in achieving 
sufficient resiliency.
    83. The disclosure requirements proposed in the NPRM are among the 
least burdensome of available options for promoting mobile wireless 
network resiliency. One alternative option we might have proposed is to 
require

[[Page 69032]]

providers to supply cell sites or other critical facilities with 
minimum supplies of back-up power to be used in the event of commercial 
power loss. The Commission previously adopted requirements along these 
lines, although they were ultimately vacated at the Commission's 
request in the face of legal challenge from the mobile wireless 
industry. Although we seek general comment in the NPRM on back-up power 
requirements as an alternative to, or possible complement of, the 
proposed disclosure obligations, we do not propose moving forward with 
adoption of such requirements at this time. Another alternative we 
consider in the NPRM is to require reporting of information other than 
operational site percentages, such as information about the efforts a 
provider has undertaken to harden its network and prepare for 
disasters. The relative economic impact of such reporting on small 
providers in comparison to the proposal is difficult to gauge in the 
absence of specific details, but we do not have reason to believe it 
would be significantly less burdensome than the minimal reporting 
discussed.
    84. Finally, notwithstanding these observations, we seek comment in 
the NPRM specifically on the potential impact of the proposed 
obligations on small mobile wireless providers and on steps that could 
be taken to minimize the burden on such entities. We renew our request 
for comment on these matters in this IRFA. In doing so, we observe that 
many small mobile wireless service providers routinely file daily 
reports in DIRS as do larger providers, which suggests that such mobile 
wireless service providers would not find it particularly burdensome to 
comply with the sorts of reporting obligations discussed. Nevertheless, 
we seek comment on whether it would be particularly costly or difficult 
for smaller mobile wireless service providers to comply with these 
proposed obligations or similar ones. Should our requirements make 
special provisions for these mobile wireless service providers? Do they 
need extended periods of time in which to report the information and, 
if so, why? Would relaxed treatment for smaller providers unfairly 
limit their customers' ability to compare their providers' performance 
with that of their competitors? If we decide that smaller mobile 
wireless service providers merit special treatment under our rules, how 
should we delineate this class of mobile wireless service providers?

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rule

    85. None.
    Comment Filing Procedures: Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated 
above. Comments should be filed in PS Docket No. 13-239. Comments may 
be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System 
(ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 
63 FR 24121 (1998).
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing.
    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.
     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. The filing hours 
are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together 
with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be 
disposed of before entering the building.
     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.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).
    Confidential Materials: 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 CFR section 0.459. 
Redacted versions of confidential submissions may be filed via ECFS.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 4 as follows:

PART 4--DISRUPTIONS TO COMMUNICATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 4 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Sec. 5, 48 Stat.1068, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 155, 
201, 251, 307, 316, 615a-1, 1302(a), and 1302(b).


0
2. Add Sec.  4.15 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  4.15  Disaster reporting requirements for commercial mobile radio 
services providers.

    (a) Definitions. For purposes of Sec.  4.15 only, the following 
definitions apply:
    (1) Network site. Any land station controlled or operated by a 
Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) provider and used by it during 
periods of normal operation to provide CMRS; any land station deployed 
by such provider on a temporary basis during a period of activation of 
the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) for the purpose of 
providing CMRS; or any land station not under the operation or control 
of such provider but actually used by it to provide CMRS during a 
period of DIRS activation, under a roaming agreement or other 
arrangement. Co-located transmitters or antennas used by the same 
provider to provide CMRS using different technologies shall be treated 
as a single network site.
    (2) Operational site. A network site that is providing CMRS, 
notwithstanding commercial power loss, physical damage, backhaul or 
transport service disruption, or any other factor.
    (b) Facilities-based CMRS providers are required to report the 
information specified in paragraph (c) of this section during periods 
of activation of the DIRS system, but only when such activation is 
announced by means of a public notice.
    (1) In carrying out the reporting specified in paragraph (c) of 
this section, providers shall report only with respect to counties 
subject to the DIRS activation.
    (2) The reporting specified in paragraph (c) of this section shall 
be made at the time specified in the public notice announcing the DIRS 
activation,

[[Page 69033]]

or as soon as possible thereafter, each day the DIRS system remains 
activated unless otherwise specified by the Commission.
    (c) Under the circumstances specified in paragraph (b) of this 
section, CMRS providers shall report to the Commission the percentage 
of their network sites in each county that are operational sites at the 
time the percentage is reported. Providers shall make reasonable 
efforts to ensure that all reported information is accurate and current 
as of the time it is reported.
    (d) Providers shall carry out the reporting required under 
paragraph (c) of this section by submitting the required information to 
the Federal Communications Commission in a machine-readable format, and 
in accordance with any guidance the Public Safety and Homeland Security 
Bureau (Bureau) may issue with respect to such submissions.
    (e) The Bureau shall compile the information reported under 
paragraph (c) of this section and publicly disclose the information on 
the Federal Communications Commission Web site, http://www.fcc.gov, in 
a prominent and easily accessed location and in a manner that enables 
comparisons to be made among providers. The Bureau may also take 
additional measures as appropriate to make this information more 
accessible and useful to consumers.

[FR Doc. 2013-27453 Filed 11-15-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P