[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 148 (Wednesday, August 1, 2012)]
[Pages 45607-45609]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-18805]



[PS Docket No. 11-60; DA 12-1153]

9-1-1 Resiliency and Reliability In Wake of, June 29, 2012, 
Derecho Storm In Central, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern United States; 
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) is 
seeking comment on the background, causes, and restoration efforts 
related to communications services and facilities impacted directly or 
indirectly by the storm and after. The FCC also seeks comment on the 
impact these outages had on the various segments of the public, 
including consumers, hospitals, and public safety entities. This 
information will develop the record in the Commission's ongoing 
examination of issues in the April 2011 Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the 
resiliency, reliability and continuity abilities of communications 
network, including broadband technologies. Comments received in 
response to this public notice will become part of the record of the 

DATES: Comments may be filed in the docket for this proceeding on or 
before August 17, 2012. Reply comments may be filed on or before 
September 4, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments on or 
before August 17, 2012 (comments) and September 4, 2012 (reply 
comments). Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an 
original and one copy of each filing. All filings must be addressed to 
the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal 
Communications Commission. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger 
delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or 
overnight U.S. Postal Service mail to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. 
SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554.
    [ssquf] The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    [ssquf] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the Commission's Secretary will be accepted.
    [ssquf] Originals and copies of each official filing must continue 
to be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. All filings must be 
submitted without envelopes. See www.fcc.gov/osec/ for further 
information on filing instructions.
    [ssquf] Documents sent by overnight mail (other than United States 
Postal Service (USPS) Express Mail) must be addressed to 9300 East 
Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    [ssquf] All USPS First Class Mail, Express Mail and Priority Mail 
should be addressed to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554.
    [ssquf] To request materials in accessible formats for people with 
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), 
send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental 
Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (tty).
    [ssquf] 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. Casual claims of confidentiality are not 
accepted. 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. Parties are advised that the 
Commission looks with disfavor on claims of confidentiality for entire 
documents. When a claim of confidentiality is made, a public, redacted 
version of the document should also be filed.

Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability Division, Public Safety 
and Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-0132 or 
[email protected].


Questions Regarding Derecho Impact, Effects, and Restoration Efforts

    The Commission poses a series of questions related to the impact of 
the storm on emergency and 9-1-1 communications accessed by traditional 
communications networks, broadband communications networks, and 
wireless communications networks. It also requests comment on the 
storm's impact on various user groups. The FCC seeks comment on the 
following issues:
    Causes of Outages. What were the specific causes of the outages 
that occurred during or after the storms? Which network elements and 
components, such as Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) trunks, 
Internet-Protocol (IP) broadband access lines, databases and PSTN 
switches, were out of service and for how long? For example, to what 
extent were issues like powering, physical damage, and power surges 
contributing factors to the outages? To what extent are there industry 
best practices that address these, and any other, contributing causes? 
To what extent were they followed?
    In what ways was physical damage due to the storm a major cause of 
outages? What could be done to improve the resiliency of communications 
infrastructure in the face of physical damage like what was seen during 
the storm? Are there actions the communications industry can take to 
avoid or mitigate these outages in future similar events? Should the 
FCC take other steps to improve communications resiliency during strong 
storms like this?
    In what ways was the derecho an ``extraordinary'' event? For 
example, compared to other types of disasters, did it occur with 
unusually short notice, affect an unusually large area, and was it 
unusually intense? How did these factors inhibit service providers in 
responding to the event and restoring service? How did these factors 
affect consumers' need for communications services and ability to 
obtain emergency services? What could be done to better prepare for 
events like this in the future? Specifically, what actions should 
communications service providers and PSAPs take to better prepare for 
similar events in the future?
    How did service providers become aware that 9-1-1 outages had 
occurred? What types of monitoring systems were in place for various 
types of assets, both in the field and inside buildings? How

[[Page 45608]]

well did these monitoring systems perform during the storm?
    What role did the availability or absence of back-up power for 
network equipment play in the 9-1-1 outages that occurred during the 
storm? What could be done to improve the ability of communications 
assets to operate longer when commercial power is lost? Are there new 
technologies, such as solar and fuel cells, which provide promise in 
this area? What maintenance practices are in place to compensate for 
the loss of commercial power? How did these methods perform during the 
storm? Are there actions the FCC should take to improve the ability of 
communications networks to survive commercial power outages? What types 
of measures could be taken to improve the robustness of communications 
infrastructure in response to failures of commercial power? Should the 
Commission consider taking action, either voluntary or mandatory, that 
would address back-up power?
    What forms of network interconnection, both PSTN and IP, were 
affected by the storm or loss of power? How and why were they affected? 
Did these disruptions affect communications seeking 911 or other 
emergency assistance and how? What carrier and public safety facilities 
have multiple means or forms of interconnection and which do not? Which 
of these facilities are essential for 911 communications? What 
monitoring of interconnection was in place and how did it perform? To 
what extent are there industry best practices addressing forms of 
interconnection and diversity and redundancy? To what extent were they 
    Effect on 9-1-1 Systems and Services. What could be done to improve 
the reliability of the 9-1-1 network when faced with storms like the 
derecho or other threats? Are there actions the FCC should take to 
improve the reliability of 9-1-1 services during strong storms like 
this? What actions should communications service providers take? Are 
there actions that communications service providers and/or PSAPs should 
take to improve the 9-1-1-restoration process? What, if anything, can 
the FCC do to better assist communications service providers and PSAPs 
in the restoration process?
    How was 9-1-1 call completion affected by outages caused by the 
storm? Is there an estimate of how many 911 calls could not be 
completed at all or only through alternate means, such as ten-digit 
numbers? To what extent do industry best practices exist that relate to 
these events, and were these best practices followed? Were there 
instances where PSAPs went offline due to failures on their own 
premises? To what extent did the storm affect Automatic Number 
Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI)? What 
were the primary causes of failures to ANI and ALI services? To what 
extent were vital 9-1-1 facilities and network elements deployed 
redundantly by service providers? For example, were selective routers 
routinely deployed in a diverse manner? Likewise, were facilities that 
carry ALI and ANI information routed in a diverse manner? What should 
be done to improve the diverse provisioning of 9-1-1 facilities and 
elements? \1\

    \1\ Public Notice, FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security 
Bureau Reminds Telecommunications Service Providers of the 
Importance of Implementing Established 9-1-1 and Enhanced 9-1-1 Best 
Practices, DA 12-891, rel. June 6, 2012.

    Effect of 9-1-1 Outages. What impact did the 9-1-1 outages have on 
the public? For example, how were consumers affected? How did the 
outages affect the ability of public safety officials to perform their 
duties? How was the public alerted of the 9-1-1 outages and what 
alternatives were provided? How effective were these alternatives? To 
what extent was social media used to spread the word about the 9-1-1 
outages and alternatives? What impact did the 9-1-1 outages have on 
other sectors of the user community, including businesses and providers 
of critical services, such as hospitals?
    Effect of Communications Outages on Access to 9-1-1 Services. 
Outages in the 9-1-1 network itself are only one way that users can be 
denied access to 9-1-1 services. For example, if the PSAP is 
operational and the 9-1-1 network is functioning, users in a local area 
will still be unable to reach the PSAP if they lack access to the 
communications network due to a local outage. To what extent did users 
find that the general unavailability of communications service impaired 
their ability to access 9-1-1 service? In these instances, were 
multiple methods of reaching the PSAP available, like cell phones or 
other types of communications services? How effective were these 
alternative communications services in overcoming outages affecting one 
access platform? What should be done to improve the diversity of access 
to 9-1-1 services so that communications outages are less likely to 
result in an inability to access 9-1-1?

Questions Regarding 9-1-1 Resiliency and Reliability Generally

    The 9-1-1 communications failures experienced as a result of the 
derecho also give rise to concerns and questions about the reliability 
and resiliency of our 9-1-1 communications networks nationwide, 
particularly in the event of a severe weather or other type of high-
impact natural disaster. The FCC seeks comment on how 9-1-1 
communications has fared during other recent natural disaster events. 
Please describe any lessons learned from those events, in particular 
improvements that were recommended to improve 9-1-1 service reliability 
and survivability. Commenters should address the impact on 
communications relying on the PSTN- and IP-based communications, as 
well as fixed and mobile wireless communications.
    The FCC also seeks comment on the most common causes of failure in 
the 9-1-1 network that result in the following types of 9-1-1 outages: 
(i) Complete isolation of the PSAP; (ii) failure to pass ALI and/or 
ANI; (iii) loss of the ability to re-route traffic to an alternate PSAP 
or administrative lines. What could be done to reduce the incidence of 
outages in each category? What actions, if any, should the FCC take to 
address this problem?
    In what ways does the practice of deploying redundant facilities or 
systems used in the 9-1-1 network promote 9-1-1 reliability? How does 
the service provider ensure that these practices are followed routinely 
and remain in place over time, even as changes are made to the 
networks? What, if anything, should the FCC do to promote the 
application of such methods?
    How do service providers routinely monitor 9-1-1 facilities and the 
availability of 9-1-1 service? How quickly do service providers become 
aware of 9-1-1 failures of various kinds? Do service providers 
routinely notify PSAPs of 9-1-1 outages? How are they alerted, under 
what conditions, and how quickly? What steps does the service provider 
take routinely to prioritize restoration of 9-1-1 service? What 
standard operating procedures and systems does the service provider 
have in place to facilitate the detection and restoration of 9-1-1 
service after an outage? Are these resources adequate?
    PSAPs are typically small operations playing a large role in 
protecting the safety of the public. The failure of a few trunks into a 
PSAP could affect public safety for an entire community, but the 
failure of just a few trunks might not attract much attention from a 
service provider. Do provider alarm systems provide adequate visibility 
to relatively small outages that can have a large impact on PSAPs, 
especially when demand may spike, such as during or

[[Page 45609]]

after a major storm? Do providers provide appropriate urgency to 
handling such outages?
    To what extent is the availability of multiple access platforms 
(e.g., residential telephone line, whether legacy or IP-based, cell 
phone, etc.) to reach networks services creating greater richness of 
diversity that would tend to improve 9-1-1 reliability? Stated 
differently, to what extent does the public have more than one way to 
reach 9-1-1 that are not reliant on each other? To what extent are 
available access platforms reliant on each other or another common 
point of failure?
    The legacy communications network uses a hierarchical architecture, 
whereby failures of network elements located deeper in the network will 
result in a larger number of customers being denied network service. 
For this reason, elements deeper in the network (e.g., switches) were 
often designed to very high reliability specifications. To what extent 
has the legacy infrastructure retained this characteristic? Today's 
networks are quickly migrating to broadband IP technology. To what 
extent does the migration to IP-based networks reduce or increase the 
level of concentration deeper in the network? What is the resultant 
impact on communications reliability?
    What other steps might service providers take? What actions should 
PSAPs take? What other actions, if any, should the Commission take to 
encourage those steps? What actions should the public and other 
institutions like hospitals take, if any? We seek comment on whether 
the deployment of Next Generation (NG911) will improve the reliability 
of 9-1-1 services and, if so, how? Would NG911 make it easier to have 
more than one backup PSAP and provide additional redundancy of 
transmission facilities, e.g., via satellite or microwave point-to-
point links? Did commercial data centers in the affected areas 
experience outages and for how long? Would it increase reliability if 
critical components of the NG911 system are housed or replicated in 
commercial data centers?
    NG911 will create the ability to utilize a ``virtual PSAP.'' 
Today's 9-1-1 system generally requires a call taker to answer a 9-1-1 
call from within the walls of a single physical (``brick and mortar'') 
PSAP. In a NG911 network, however, a call taker will be able to answer 
a 9-1-1 call from virtually any location. The FCC seeks comment on the 
potential for development of virtual PSAPs. Are current technologies 
sufficient to support virtual PSAPs? Are there specific steps that 
service providers should take to ensure that they have adequate 
reliability when implementing NG9-1-1? How would the addition of a 9-1-
1 text capability provide substantial improvement in the ability of 
consumers to contact PSAPs?

    Federal Communications Commission.
David S. Turetsky,
Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2012-18805 Filed 7-31-12; 8:45 am]