On October 15, 2019, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice (“Notice”) encouraging communications service providers to review and implement important industry best practices to ensure network reliability. The Bureau bases these lessons from several recent major communications network outages, and further encourages communications service providers to review these industry best practices, as previously recommended by the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (“CSRIC”).

The Bureau encourages providers to implement the following:

  • Ensure sufficient circuit diversity – the Bureau encourages operators, providers, and public safety entities to periodically audit their network and provider diversity to ensure one outage will not affect different circuits, and recommends that providers pursue additional actions and options for 911 routing;
  • Make spare equipment available – the Bureau recommends that operators and providers have readily available replacement equipment in multiple geographic locations;
  • Perform work during maintenance windows – the Bureau suggests that operators and providers perform maintenance on in-service equipment during low traffic periods.

Additionally, the Bureau identifies other practices that could prevent or mitigate similar future outages:

  • Implementing software to detect equipment performance degradation, including by monitoring memory and processor utilization, so that parts likely to fail can be identified and replaced prior to their failure;
  • Turning off or disabling system features that are not in use;
  • Implementing standard operating procedures for network repair that take effect when normal networking monitoring procedures are inoperable or otherwise unavailable.

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