Emergency Communications

The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Huricane Katrina and other man-made and natural disasters often reveal flaws in emergency communications systems. Here we attempt to chart the effects of disasters on our telecommunications and media communications systems -- and efforts by policymakers to stregthen these systems.

AT&T, Verizon Tangle Over 5G Service for Emergency Responders

Two of the nation’s major telecommunications companies are feuding over a plan to boost service for police, firefighters and other state and local agencies—a move Verizon Communications says would amount to a $14 billion gift to rival AT&T.

FCC Announces July 18, 2024 Open Commission Meeting Agenda

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold an Open Meeting on the following subjects on Thursday, July 18, 2024, which is scheduled to commence at 10:30 a.m. in the Commission Meeting Room of the Federal Communications Commission. 

Beryl kicks U.S. telcos' hurricane recovery plans into high gear

Hurricane Beryl, the first hurricane of the 2024 season to hit the U.S, spiraled 80 mile per hour winds through Houston, Texas, and is now heading northeast and beyond. More than 2 million people in Texas are without power. There are reports of outages on the AT&T and Verizon cellular networks in Texas in the wake of storm, as well as disruptions to Internet service providers such as Xfinity. Here’s what’s going on with the big three mobile operators:

The 2024 AT&T Outage

On February 22 AT&T had a massive cellular outage. Ookla’s service Downtector said it recorded over 1.8 million reports of customer problems during the outage event, making this the most widespread outage since a big T-Mobile outage in June 2020. The biggest immediate concern is always 911 and emergency services. Many local 911 centers issued an alert about the problem and warned people to use alternate ways to reach 911.

FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Proposes Strengthening Security of Emergency Alert Systems

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has shared with her fellow commissioners draft final rules that, if adopted, would strengthen the security of the nation’s public alert and warning systems—the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts—against emerging cybersecurity threats. The Emergency Alert System delivers warnings to the public thorough radio and television. Wireless Emergency Alerts deliver warnings to consumers’ wireless phones.

FCC July 2024 Open Meeting Agenda

Here’s what to expect for the Federal Communications Commission's jam-packed July Open Meeting agenda.

Verizon Wireless to Pay Over $1 Million to Settle FCC Investigation into 911 Outage in Six States

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced a settlement to resolve its investigation into whether Verizon Wireless violated FCC rules by failing to deliver 911 calls during an outage in December 2022, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. As Congress and the Commission have found, robust and reliable 911 service is a critical national priority. Those calling first responders must be able to rely on their calls being completed.

911 Outage Shows System’s Perils

The abrupt failure of Massachusetts’ 911 system on June 18 was a stark example of the disastrous consequences that can occur when an emergency network that is supposed to be reliable is, without warning, suddenly unreliable. The outage, lasting two hours, prompted a scramble among emergency agencies as they directed the public to reach out directly to the local authorities at less-familiar phone numbers or, as a last resort, go in person to their local firehouse.

Is the 4.9 GHz ‘giveaway’ a bad idea? Verizon, Boston and New York think so.

Verizon is among several entities that told the Federal Communications Commission to hold off on any plan to grant FirstNet – and by extension AT&T – a nationwide license to the 4.9 GHz band. In case you aren't up to speed, here's the recap: The Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA) supports a proposal to assign the 4.9 GHz band to FirstNet, which runs on AT&T’s network. The Coalition for Emergency Response and Critical Infrastructure (CERCI) opposes that plan and argues that the 4.9 GHz band should remain in the control of local authorities.

911 Consolidation

Network consolidation and centralization of networks is putting our broadband and voice networks in increased jeopardy. It’s easy to understand why carriers are in favor of the savings that come from consolidation, but it’s vital that we recognize and acknowledge the increased risk that comes as a consequence of choosing efficiency over other factors. One area of particular concern is 911 network consolidation.