Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up H. R. 5918, a bill introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) to direct the Federal Communications Commission to conduct field hearings and issue reports following major emergencies like natural disasters. The bill also instructs the FCC to improve general network outage reporting by service providers. The bill was passed, as amended by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and has been referred to the full U.S. House of Representatives. Public Knowledge commends Rep. Matsui for working diligently to ensure that telecommunications companies strengthen their wireless networks and emergency preparedness.
The following can be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Our nation ignored its wireless networks, leading to long outages when wireless communications are needed most. Enduring natural disasters is stressful enough without Americans having to worry about missing emergency alerts or evacuation orders, or being unable to communicate with first responders or loved ones, because a network is down. This is why our nation must formulate policies that ensure our communications networks are both resilient and reliable. We thank Rep. Matsui for shepherding this legislation that will help the FCC minimize communications outages during future natural disasters.
“In particular, we are glad that this legislation requires the FCC to hold field hearings that policymakers can use to prevent future outages. Additionally, we’re pleased the bill directs the agency to report on important information about network outages, including the number and duration of outages, and who is affected. This information will help policymakers prevent future outages of vital communications networks during disasters.
“Moving forward, we urge Congress and the FCC to do more to strengthen our nation’s wireless networks and emergency preparedness. Future actions should include enacting this legislation, updating the FCC’s framework for disaster response, imposing requirements for companies to better maintain their communications networks, and passing Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-CA) RESILIENT Networks Act, which aims to improve network resiliency in times of emergency.”
You may view our recent blog post, “What America Can Do to Strengthen Its Communications Infrastructure,” to learn more about how Congress and the FCC can promote resilient networks.
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