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NTIA Files Petition to Update Telecommunications Service Priority

July 17, 2019 by Shawn Cochran, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Today, NTIA filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the rules governing Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) so that it better reflects current technologies and industry practices.  NTIA filed the petition and a draft set of updated rules on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

TSP is a program managed by the DHS’s Emergency Communications Division (ECD). It supports Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities; critical infrastructure service providers; first responders; 9-1-1 call centers; health care providers; and other organizations that use telecommunications to perform national security and emergency preparedness functions by providing prioritized installation or restoration of eligible telecommunications services. TSP helps ensure that the most critical telecommunications services will be available as quickly as possible.

The rules governing TSP were developed in the late 1980s and have not been updated since the program began. While the purpose of TSP remains fundamentally unchanged, the program has needed to evolve to accommodate new technologies as well as meet the increasing communications needs of the national security and emergency preparedness community.

Many of the requests covered in the petition simply seek to align the FCC’s rules with ECD’s practices and capabilities, remove ambiguous language, and include terminology more reflective of today’s telecommunications environment. The petition also seeks to improve ECD’s ability to manage the TSP program by incorporating the following changes:

  • Amending the rules to better protect the confidentiality of TSP data;
  • Updating the program’s scope to account for non-common carriers, such as cable companies, which agree to provide TSP on a voluntary basis.  Common carriers are required to provide TSP;
  • Eliminating the requirement for the TSP System Oversight Committee, which has largely been superseded by the support provided by DHS’s National Coordinating Center for Communications; and
  • Instituting new service provider reporting requirements tied to the activation of the Disaster Reporting Information System (DIRS) to measure the TSP’s effectiveness during emergency incidents.