Upgrading FCC Policies and Processes

The American economy is dynamic and innovative, that is critical for sustained economic growth. The FCC is tasked with overseeing broadband and other communications networks. We have to be as agile as the communications sector, as well as protect consumers. Both goals will be served in the products I circulate today for our Aug meeting.

First, we should ensure that consumers can continue to rely on 911, even as the technologies and platforms we use to communicate evolve.

This past April, we noticed a large-scale 911 outage centered in Washington state, where over 4, 500 911 calls failed to get through during one six-hour period. The FCC launched an investigation in to these outages in May, and the investigation is ongoing. Initial reports claim that this outage appears to be a case where the transition to new networks might have been managed poorly and providers within the 911 ecosystem are not operating in a fashion that is transparent to system customers, regulators and each other.

Let me be plain – no enterprise will be allowed to hang up on 911.

Admiral David Simpson, the head of our Public Safety Agency, delivered this message to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners earlier this week. He was very clear — incumbent providers that have taken a responsibility for making 911 function have also undertaken a public rely on that cannot be compromised. It will certainly not be acceptable to tell anyone they will can’t connect to 911 because of “innovation in the cloud” or a new business design, or because a new communications functionality has superseded carrier responsibility. The bottom line is 911 must be preserved and enhanced.

The fact is our 911 system has struggled to keep pace with new technology. Witness the long-standing inability to text to 911. We’ve made significant progress with this issue this year. Consistent with a Policy Statement unanimously adopted by the Commission in January 2014 the four main wireless carriers, which serve 95 percent of U. S. customers now support text-to-911. More than 100 emergency call centers in 17 states now support text-to-911, and more have initiated plans to come on the internet. I commend the four countrywide wireless carriers for following via on their commitment, and while I’m pleased to see that PSAPs are beginning to respond presently there remains more to be done.

Other than the four main wireless carriers, no other providers associated with text services have offered voluntary commitments to implement text-to-911. On the PSAP side, despite recent progress, the majority still do not support text-to-911.

When you consider how People in america increasingly rely on text as a major means of communication, and the approximately 48 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing and 7. 5 million Americans with talk disabilities, all of whom are a lot more reliant on text, these shortcomings are unacceptable.

I’ve often spoken about the regulatory see-saw: if industry acts in the public interest, FCC involvement will be reduced, but if the public interest is not being served, the Commission will not think twice to act. In the case of text-to-911, it is time for your Commission to act. And today, I am circulating an item for consideration at our August open meeting that will get definitive action to implement the particular Policy Statement we unanimously followed in January.

Previously I spoke of the need to up-date not only policies, but processes. Agency-wide we have been moving forward with changes in order to streamline how the Commission functions, and also to update outdated rules.

Today, I am proposing that we up-date our rules regarding antenna construction lighting and marking to provide clearness and reduce regulatory burdens on antenna structure owners and licensees. Within doing so, we specifically adhere to the particular FAA’s air safety requirements.

More specifically, we will election at our August meeting on the Report and Order that would streamline and eliminate outdated provisions from the Commission’s Part 17 rules governing the construction, marking, and lights of antenna structures.

This is one piece in our on-going work to make the regulatory approval process for wireless infrastructure more efficient and effective. Our efforts will enable the companies that deploy wireless networks to build out quickly without unwanted burdens and, as a result, benefit United states consumers by meeting their demand for more and more wireless service. Simultaneously, we are committed to preserving safeguards that will prevent deleterious impacts on historical, environmental, and local interests.

The Report and Order would also make common-sense improvements to our rules. For instance, it would change our rules to allow antenna construction owners to report lighting outages by any means acceptable to the FAA, rather than by “telephone or telegraph. ”

The communications industry will never stop changing and changing. The FCC is committed to updating our policies and processes in order to facilitate and accelerate these developments to maximize the benefits for the American people.


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