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.

Congress decimates 911's digital upgrade

Public safety officials fear the nation's 911 centers will continue to languish in the analog era, after Democrats slashed proposed funding for a digital makeover in their social spending bill.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for December 2021 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the December Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2021:

Here’s why your old cellphone may be obsolete in 2022

A lot of older cellphones, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4, will become obsolete in 2022 as mobile providers make the switch to 5G networks. The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers they may not be able to send text messages, access the internet, or make phone calls, including to 911, if they have models that are several years old.

3G shutdowns could leave most vulnerable without a connection

Consumer advocates say the 3G shutdown will leave some of society’s most vulnerable people without critical communications tools. Many devices have moved to 4G networks and newer phones are now moving onto 5G. But a motley assortment still relies on the more rudimentary 3G service and consumer advocates are urging the Federal Communications Commission to slow the change, which is set to start in February 2022. Older and low-income Americans are more likely to be affected by the shift.

A Guide to the FAA/FCC 5G C-Band Fight

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA)'s new “Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin” on “Risk of Potential Adverse Effects on Radio Altimeters” stated airplane communications and safety features could be affected by the Federal Communications Commission's roll-out of 5G, scheduled for December 2021 but now delayed until January 2022.

FAA issues warning on potential safety risks from 5G deployments in C-band frequencies

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upped the ante in what has been an ongoing scuffle between communications regulators and the wireless industry with aviation stakeholders – as the agency issued a warning over potential interference to airplane safety systems from upcoming 5G deployments in C-band frequencies.

FirstNet coverage brings critical connectivity to Tribal lands

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and its network contractor AT&T are working to bring FirstNet’s unique capabilities to areas historically prone to communication challenges. FirstNet currently provides over 2.71 million square miles of coverage and new cell sites are launching nationwide, including in Tribal communities such as the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota, and the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

Will tech provisions make the cut in Democrats' spending bill?

As Democrats attempt to shrink their social spending plan by hundreds of billions of dollars in order to reach consensus between moderates and progressives, the fate of several of its tech provisions hangs in the balance. House Democrats included a boatload of technology and telecommunications cash in the original $3.5 trillion version of their spending package, which the party is planning to pass without GOP support under a process called reconciliation.

Building Internet Resilience from the Ashes of the Holiday Farm Fire

Blue River, the hub of the McKenzie River Valley in rural Lane County, Oregon, is no stranger to natural disasters. In September 2020, this former mining and timber town burned to the ground in the Holiday Farm fire. However, despite the challenges, Blue River’s story is one of resilience. It’s the story of a town’s desire to not merely survive but thrive.