On January 26, 2024, the FCC released the Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“2nd R&O” and “2nd FNPRM” respectively) mandating that cable communications, wireline, wireless, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) providers report their infrastructure status during emergencies and crises in the Disaster Information Reporting System (“DIRS”) when activated and to submit a final report to the Commission within 24 hours of DIRS deactivation and seeking comment on whether to require broadcasters, satellite providers, FirstNet, and broadband internet access service (“BIAS”) providers to report in DIRS and otherwise comply with the requirements in the 2nd R&O. The item was adopted at the January Open Commission meeting.
- 2nd R&O
In the 2nd R&O, the FCC adopts the following rules:
- Mandating DIRS Reporting for Cable, Wireless, Wireline, and Interconnected VoIP Providers – The FCC will require cable, wireless, wireline, and interconnected VoIP providers (“the Subject Providers”) to file daily reports in DIRS, once activated until the Commission deactivates DIRS. On days where the Subject Provider has no reportable changes in its infrastructure status, the report would take the form of a simplified “check in” report. In those instances where extraordinary circumstances prevent filing due to operational limitations, the provider should: (1) use the Operations Center or otherwise notify the Commission if they are unable to file; and (2) make a filing as soon as they are capable, but no later than the final report due upon deactivation of DIRS.” The FCC concludes that mandating DIRS reporting is essential to ensure that the FCC has an up-to-date understanding of the status of the nation’s communications networks during disasters. The FCC will retain the presumption of confidentiality for any reporting information received in DIRS.
- Codifying the NORS Reporting Waiver When DIRS is Activated – You may recall that under the Commission’s current voluntary DIRS reporting approach, the Bureau typically waives NORS reporting obligations for the subject providers who elect to report in DIRS for the duration of its activation period. The Bureau routinely issues such a waiver sua sponte upon DIRS activation. In the Draft 2nd R&O, the FCC codifies this procedure in Part 4 of the Commission’s rules. Under the new rule, the FCC suspends NORS reporting obligations pertaining to outages that arise when DIRS reporting is activated and outages are timely reported in DIRS.
- Final DIRS Reports Upon Deactivation – The FCC will require the Subject Providers to file a final report, describing, in detail, the identity and status of outstanding infrastructure equipment and issues and the estimated dates by which these issues shall be resolved within 24 hours of the deactivation of DIRS. The FCC also finds that the final report obviates the need for any additional filings in NORS related to the same outage, and clarifies that once an outage is filed in DIRS, the event need not be filed in NORS.
- Compliance Deadline – All Subject Providers are required to comply with the adopted rules at the later of (i) 30 days after the Commission issues a Public Notice announcing that OMB has completed review of any new information collection requirements associated with the Draft 2nd R&O, or (ii) November 30, 2024. Once the compliance date is established, all Subject Providers will be required to report their infrastructure status information in DIRS whenever the Commission activates DIRS in geographic areas where such entities provide service.
- Cost Benefit Analysis – The FCC concludes mandatory DIRS reporting will result in a significant reduction of the annual $118 billion in economic damages and 564 deaths over the last 10 years reported by NOAA. The FCC estimates the costs to providers will be $1.6 million annually for all providers.
- 2nd FNPRM
In the 2nd FNPRM, the FCC seeks comment on the following:
- Outage Reporting by Broadcast Entities – The FCC proposes to require TV and radio broadcasters to report in both NORS and DIRS based on the type and modality of certain broadcast infrastructures. The FCC seeks comment on this proposal, the classes of broadcasters that should be included as mandatory filers, whether a simplified reporting process would be appropriate, and what reporting elements should be included for such a purpose in NORS and DIRS.
- Outage Reporting by Satellite Providers – The FCC seeks comment on whether to require DBS providers, SDARS providers, Fixed Satellite Service (“FSS”) providers, and Mobile Satellite Service (“MSS”) providers to report in DIRS, and if so, what fields should be included in mandatory DIRS reporting as to these providers. The FCC also seeks comment on other categories of providers that should be required to file in NORS or DIRS, and how the existing NORS reporting thresholds should be modified to reflect technological changes to networks.
- Outage Reporting by FirstNet – The FCC seeks comment on whether FirstNet should be subject to the reporting requirements in NORS, DIRS, or both systems.
- Outage Reporting by Broadband Internet Access Service Providers – The FCC seeks comment on whether to include BIAS providers within the mandatory reporting rules for NORS. The FCC seeks comment on how to define an “outage” within the context of the BIAS provision, whether the current threshold of 900,000 user minutes is appropriate in this context, if there are other ways the FCC should measure “impact” for BIAS outage reporting purposes, if the current 30-minute threshold is appropriate, if the duration metric should be higher or lower, and if reporting should be based on degradation in throughput, among other things.
- Reporting Mobile Recover Assets in DIRS – The FCC seeks comment on whether current or future providers who are subject to DIRS reporting requirements should be required to supply the FCC with information concerning the location of their mobile recovery assets, and specifically whether providers should be required to supply the Commission with information on the location of their Cells on Wheels (“COWs”) and Cells on Light Truck (“COLTs”) or comparable assets, either as a component of their daily DIRS reporting or through alternate means. The FCC also seeks comment on whether Subject Providers should be required to quantify the traffic load provided by those assets.
- After Action Reporting – The FCC seeks comment on whether providers subject to DIRS reporting requirement should be required to supply the Commission with “after action” reports detailing more specifically how their networks fared after the event or exigency and the nature, timing, duration, and effectiveness of their pre-disaster response plans after the FCC’s deactivation of DIRS and within 60 days of when the Bureau issues a Public Notice announcing such reports must be filed. The FCC seeks comment on the need for such a report, on what should be included, whether they should be confidential, and whether the proposed filing timeline is sufficient, among other things.
Comments will be due 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Reply comments will be due 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
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