On April 16, 2018, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice reminding communications service providers of industry best practices to help ensure network reliability. Based on recent analysis of several major network outages that affected subscribers, the Bureau determined that these outages could have likely been prevented or mitigated if the provider had followed certain network reliability best practices.

The Bureau encourages providers to implement the following best practices, as previously recommended by CSRIC:

  1. Minimize impact of maintenance windows – operators and providers should consider peak traffic periods when scheduling service-affecting procedures to minimize service impacts.
  2. Monitor 911 network components – operators, providers, and public safety entities should monitor and manage the 911 network components using network management controls to quickly restore 911 service and provide priority repair during network failure events.
  3. Ensure real-world testing conditions – providers and operators should consider validating upgrades, new procedures and commands in test conditions similar to the target network prior to the first application.

Additionally, the Bureau finds that the following practices could prevent or mitigate similar outages in the future:

  1. Registration traffic – include registration traffic in the highest priority category of network traffic, with attached critical alarms to failures in the registration process.
  2. Data packet monitoring – monitor traffic to detect when data packets do not progress across a network element.
  3. Redundancy failover – fail over to redundant equipment when the number of error messages within a period of time exceeds a certain threshold.
  4. Redundancy during maintenance – perform maintenance on only one piece of equipment at a time, rather than performing maintenance on multiple pieces of equipment with the same function for redundancy.

The Bureau also recommends that communications service providers visit the new network reliability resource page for more information: https://www.fcc.gov/network-reliability-resources. Please let us know if you have any questions or would like any additional information.

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