FCC Proposes to Modernize its Priority Service Rules for Emergency Communications during Disasters

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The FCC has initiated a proceeding to modernize its rules for priority programs that help first responders and other emergency personnel communicate during disasters. The proposed updates are intended to ensure that priority programs meet the needs of emergency personnel as technology advances. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) manages three priority services programs for national security and emergency preparedness personnel to communicate during emergencies: the Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) System, which requires service providers to prioritize provisioning and restoration of wired communications facilities; Wireless Priority Service (WPS), a voluntary program where service providers prioritize voice calls on wireless networks; and the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service, a voluntary program where service providers prioritize voice calls on landline networks. The FCC regulates TSP and WPS; however, the rules for these programs were adopted two decades ago and are based on legacy technology. The FCC proposes to modernize and streamline its priority service rules to cover priority treatment of voice, data, and video services for emergency personnel and remove outdated requirements that impede the use of Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies. The FCC also proposes to eliminate burdensome administrative requirements for the priority services programs.

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