Senate Bill 102 — Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017
- Current Bill Text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/102/text
- Current Bill History: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/102/all-actions
Summary, emphases, and [comments], below, by Scientists For Wired Technology (‘S4WT’).
Bill Summary: S.102
The Bill states the following:
- The bill authorizes two studies and reports, one by the FCC and the other by the GAO about how to best plan for emergency communications during emergencies.
- The bill suggests that Wi-Fi might be an effective back up to Cellular Service that routinely goes down in emergencies. Of course, all Wi-Fi, Internet, Television and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones depend on the electricity in one’s home working or on AC electric power from backup power systems in the home (AC battery or generators).
- Copper, legacy, switched, Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) landline telephone lines are more reliable in an emergency because the copper lines use power from a remote source, provides automatic address detection and can be called by reverse-9-1-1 services. This is what makes these important Wireline emergency communications assets so invaluable.
Scientists For Wired Technology Bill Analysis: S.1676
Americans have an existing, proven more capable 911 system already in place that far outperforms Wireless communications in an emergency: copper, legacy landline phone lines. Recent evidence of this has been gathered from the October 2017 Fires in Northern California. Wireless Cell Coverage Failed in October 2017 California Fires. The Wireless alerts failed to get through. Residents with copper, legacy landline phones received the reverse-9-1-1 warnings to evacuate. No solution that depends on a homeowner’s electricity being on is robust in an emergency.
S.102 Bill Text
115th CONGRESS, 1st Session
AN ACT to direct the Federal Communications Commission to commence proceedings related to the resiliency of critical communications networks during times of emergency, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. Short title.
This Act may be cited as the “Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017”.
SEC. 2. Sense of Congress.
It is the sense of Congress that the voluntary policies outlined in the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework should be adhered to by all parties to aid consumers, 9–1–1 professionals, first responders, and local governments, in accessing communication services during times of emergency.
SEC. 3. Securing access to networks in disasters.
(a) Definitions. — In this section —
(1) the term “Commission” means the Federal Communications Commission;
(2) the term “mobile service” means —
(A) commercial mobile service (as defined in section 332 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 332)); or
(B) commercial mobile data service (as defined in section 6001 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (47 U.S.C. 1401));
(3) the term “times of emergency” means—
(A) an emergency or major disaster, as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122); or
(B) an emergency as declared by the Governor of a State or territory of the United States; and
(4) the term “WiFi access points” means wireless Internet access using the standard designated as 802.11 or any variant thereof.
(b) FCC study on alternative access to 9–1–1 services during times of emergency. —
(1) STUDY. — Not later than 36 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to Congress, and make publicly available on the website of the Commission, a study on the public safety benefits and technical feasibility and cost of—
(A) making telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points, and other telecommunications service provider-owned communications technologies operating on unlicensed spectrum, available to the general public for access to 9–1–1 services, without requiring any login credentials, during times of emergency when mobile service is unavailable;
(B) the provision by non-telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points of public access to 9–1–1 services during times of emergency when mobile service is unavailable; and
(C) other alternative means of providing the public with access to 9–1–1 services during times of emergency when mobile service is unavailable.
(2) CONSIDERATIONS. — In conducting the study required under paragraph (1), the Commission shall consider issues related to making WiFi access points available to the general public for access to 9–1–1 services, including communications network provider liability, the operational security of communications networks, and any existing actions or authorities in and among the States.
(c) GAO study and report. —
(1) DEFINITIONS. — In this subsection —
(A) the term "essential communications services" means wireline and mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio and television broadcasting, cable service, and direct broadcast satellite service; and
(B) the term “Executive departments” has the meaning given the term in section 101 of title 5, United States Code.
(2) STUDY. — The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study on —
(A) how Executive departments can better ensure essential communications services remain operational during times of emergency;
(B) any legislative matters, if appropriate, Congress could consider to help promote the resiliency of essential communications services; and
(C) whether a nationwide directory of points of contact among providers of essential communications services is needed to facilitate the rapid restoration of such services damaged during times of emergency.
(3) CONSIDERATIONS. — In making the determination described in paragraph (2)(C), the Comptroller General shall consider —
(A) any similar directories that exist at the Federal, State, or local level, including the effectiveness of such directories;
(B) how such a directory could be established and updated, including what types of information would be most useful;
(C) how access to such a directory could be managed to adequately ensure the confidentiality of any sensitive information and operational security of essential communications services; and
(D) the resources necessary to establish and maintain such a directory.
(4) REPORT. — Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall transmit a report to Congress containing the findings and recommendations of the study required under paragraph (2).
(d) Expanding list of essential service providers during federally declared emergencies To include all communications providers; providing access to essential service providers. — Section 427 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5189e) is amended —
(1) in subsection (a)(1)(A), by striking “telecommunications service” and inserting “wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct broadcast satellite service”; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
“(d) Mutual aid agreements. — The President, acting through the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, shall encourage the adoption of mutual aid agreements that recognize the credentials of essential service providers issued by all parties to the mutual aid agreement.”.
(e) Communications networks are designated essential assistance during federally declared emergencies. — Section 403(a)(3) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5170b(a)(3)) is amended—
(1) in subparagraph (I), by striking “and” at the end;
(2) in subparagraph (J), by striking the period at the end and inserting “; and”; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
“(K) allowing for access to essential service providers necessary for establishing temporary or restoring wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct broadcast satellite service.”.
Passed the Senate September 11, 2017.