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[EB Docket No. 06-119; FCC 06-83]

In the Matter of Recommendations of the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.
ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.
SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) initiates a comprehensive rulemaking to address and implement the recommendations presented by the Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks (Independent Panel). The Independent Panel's report described the impact of the worst natural disaster in the Nation's history as well as the overall public and private response efforts. In addition, the report included recommendations which relate to: pre-positioning the communications industry and the government for disasters in order to achieve greater network reliability and resiliency; improving recovery coordination to address existing shortcomings and to maximize the use of existing resources; improving the operability and interoperability of public safety and 911 communications in times of crisis; and improving communication of emergency information to the public. The Commission, in this proceeding, is to take the lessons learned from this disaster and build upon them to promote more effective, efficient response and recovery efforts as well as heightened readiness and preparedness in the future. To accomplish this goal, the Commission invites comment on what actions the Commission can take to address the Independent Panel's recommendations.
DATES: Comments are due on or before August 7, 2006, and reply comments are due on or before August 21, 2006. Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before September 5, 2006.
ADDRESSES: * Federal eRulemaking Portal:http://www.regulations.gov/.Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

* Federal Communications Commission's Web site:http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/.Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

* People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail;FCC504@fcc.govor phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

In addition to filing with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained herein should be submitted to Judith B. Herman, Federal Communications Commission, Room 1-C804, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554, or via the Internet toPRA@fcc.gov,and to Kristy L. LaLonde, OMB Desk Officer, Room 10234, NEOB, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503, via the Internet toKristy_L. LaLonde@omb.eop.govor via fax at 202-395-5167.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa M. Fowlkes, Assistant Bureau Chief, Enforcement Bureau, at (202) 418-7450 or Jean Ann Collins, Senior Counsel, Office of Homeland Security, Enforcement Bureau at (202) 418-1199. For additional information concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained in this document, contact Judith B. Herman at (202) 418-0214 or via the Internet atPRA@fcc.gov.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in EB Docket No. 06-119, FCC 06-83, adopted June 16, 2006 and released June 19, 2006. The complete text of this document is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document may also be purchased from the Commission's duplicating contractor Best Copy and Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone (800) 378-3160 or (202) 488-5300, facsimile (202) 488-5563, or via e-mail atfcc@bcpiweb.com.It is also available on the Commission's Web site athttp://www.fcc.gov.

This document contains proposed information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the OMB to comment on the proposed information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Public and agency comments are due September 5, 2006.

Comments should address: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we seek specific comment on how it might “further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.”

OMB Control Number:None

Title:Emergency Communications Status and Contact Information.

Form No.:N/A.

Type of Review:New Collection.

Respondents:Business or other for-profit, not-for-profit, state, local or tribal governments.

Estimated Number of Respondents:1,300.

Frequency of Response:Contact information—0.167 hours for initial collection; 0.084 hours for updates; Readiness Checklist—40 hours.

Frequency of Response:On occasion.

Estimated Total Annual Burden:16,113 hours.

Estimated Total Annual Costs:$0.

Privacy Act Impact Assessment:N/A.

Needs and Uses:The Commission will use the information collected to promote more effective, efficient response and recovery efforts in the event of a natural disaster or emergency situation, as well as heightened readiness and preparedness. Additionally, this information collection will be used to compile a roster of key communications providers and other emergency personnel throughout the United States and in determining the extent of communications disruption and the appropriate agency response. This information collection will be used to compile a list of outages to communications infrastructure within an area affected by a disaster. This information will assist in ensuring rapid restoration of communications capabilities after disruption by a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency and will assist in ensuring the public safety, public health, and other emergency and defense personnel have effective communications services available to them.

Synopsis of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

1.Background.On Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing significant damage in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The destruction to communications companies’ facilities in the region, and therefore to the services upon which citizens rely, was extraordinary. Hurricane Katrina knocked out more than three million customer phone lines in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The wireline telecommunications network sustained enormous damage—dozens of central offices and countless miles of outside plant were damaged or destroyed as a result of the hurricane or the subsequent flooding. Local wireless networks also sustained considerable damage—more than a thousand cell sites were knocked out of service by the hurricane. At the hurricane's height, more than thirty-five Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) were out of service, and some parishes in Louisiana remained without 911 or enhanced 911 (E911) service for weeks.

2. In January 2006, Chairman Kevin J. Martin established the Independent Panel pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, as amended (71 FR 933, January 6, 2006). The mission of the Independent Panel was to review the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the telecommunications and media infrastructure in the areas affected by the hurricane. Specifically, the Independent Panel was to study the impact of Hurricane Katrina on all sectors of the telecommunications and media industries, including public safety communications. In addition, the Independent Panel was to review the sufficiency and effectiveness of the recovery effort with respect to the communications infrastructure. The Independent Panel was tasked with making recommendations to the Commission by June 15, 2006, regarding ways to improve disaster preparedness, network reliability, and communications among first responders such as police, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel.

3. The Independent Panel met directly on five occasions. Four of these meetings were used to examine the facts surrounding the impact of Hurricane Katrina and to obtain evidence concerning the extent of the damage and the sufficiency and effectiveness of the recovery efforts. On one occasion, the Independent Panel met in the area struck by Hurricane Katrina to hear first-hand from victims of the disaster. In addition to the in-person meetings, the Independent Panel also received written comments from interested members of the public. Finally, the Independent Panel's informal working groups met on numerous occasions via conference call and in person to discuss their progress.

4. On June 9, 2006, the Independent Panel held its final meeting in Washington, DC to conclude its analysis and deliberations. The Independent Panel finalized its findings and recommendations and submitted its report on June 12, 2006. A copy of the report is attached to this NPRM.

5.Introduction.In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission initiates a comprehensive rulemaking to address and implement the recommendations presented by the Independent Panel. Congress has charged the Commission with promoting the safety of life and propertythrough the use of wire and radio communications. In this regard, the Commission has already taken a number of steps to fulfill this mandate and we will continue to do so. The Independent Panel's report described the impact of the worst natural disaster in the Nation's history, as well as the overall public and private response and recovery efforts. Our goal in this proceeding is to take the lessons learned from this disaster and build upon them to promote more effective, efficient response and recovery efforts, as well as heightened readiness and preparedness, in the future. To accomplish this goal, we invite comment on what actions the Commission can take to address the Independent Panel's recommendations.

6. We seek comment on the recommendations presented by the Independent Panel in its final report. The Independent Panel's recommendations are organized into four areas: (1) Pre-positioning the communications industry and the government for disasters in order to achieve greater network reliability and resiliency; (2) improving recovery coordination to address existing shortcomings and to maximize the use of existing resources; (3) improving the operability and interoperability of public safety and 911 communications in times of crisis; and (4) improving communication of emergency information to the public. In some cases, the Independent Panel recommends actions that require the Commission to modify its rules pursuant to notice-and-comment rulemaking. In other cases, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission take actions that are not dependent upon rulemakings, such as increased outreach and education campaigns, or recommends measures that may not fall within the Commission's statutory authority and jurisdiction. In advocating implementation of the Independent Panel's recommendations, commenters should note what actions would fall within the Commission's statutory authority and jurisdiction, and what the Commission could do to encourage the appropriate entities (e.g., state and local authorities) to take action. In evaluating the Independent Panel's recommendations, our goal is to determine what actions the Commission should take to promote greater resiliency and reliability of communications infrastructure, as well as the actions the Commission should take to strengthen and improve response and recovery efforts. We therefore invite broad comment on the Independent Panel's recommendations and on the measures the Commission should take to address the problems identified. We also generally seek comment on whether, in adopting any of the Independent Panel's recommendations, any additional safeguards should be implemented to limit disclosure of sensitive infrastructure information or commercial information to prevent exposing potential targets to wrongdoers and subjecting regulated entities to competitive harm.

7. In addition to presenting recommendations, the Independent Panel's final report describes the Independent Panel's observations regarding the hurricane's impact and the sufficiency of the recovery efforts. We also seek comment on whether the Independent Panel's observations warrant additional measures or steps beyond the report's specific recommendations. Thus, to the extent parties believe additional measures beyond the Independent Panel's recommendations or different actions are warranted, we welcome these suggestions and recommendations. We also seek comment whether we should rely on voluntary consensus recommendations, as advocated by the Independent Panel, or whether we should rely on other measures for enhancing readiness and promoting more effective response efforts.

8.Pre-Positioning for Disasters.The Independent Panel recommendation notes that the sheer force of Hurricane Katrina and the extensive flooding that occurred severely tested the reliability and resiliency of communications networks in the Gulf Coast region. To help speed response efforts, the Independent Panel recommends the adoption of a proactive (rather than reactive) program for network reliability and resiliency. At the heart of the Independent Panel's recommendations are steps the Independent Panel believes the communications industry, public safety organizations, and the Commission should take for a faster, more effective response to disasters and emergencies. In particular, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with industry sectors, associations, and other organizations to establish a “Readiness Checklist” for the communications industry that would include developing formal business continuity plans, conducting training exercises, developing suitable plans and procedures, and maintaining pre-positioned supplies and equipment to help in disaster response. We seek comment on these recommendations. The Independent Panel recommends that we rely on checklists developed by industry consensus groups, such as the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) and the Media Security and Reliability Council (MSRC). We seek comment on this recommendation, including whether we should rely on the results of voluntary consensus recommendations or instead rely on other measures. We invite parties to comment on the appropriate breadth of business continuity plans. Are the suggested elements presented by the Independent Panel adequate, or are other elements useful or necessary? We seek comment on whether we should adopt guidance or criteria for developing business continuity plans, conducting exercises, developing and practicing communications plans, or routinely archiving critical system back-ups for secure off-site facilities.

9. The Independent Panel also recommends enhancing the awareness of the public safety community in non-traditional emergency alternatives through community education campaigns. We seek comment on this recommendation and on other steps we can take within our jurisdiction and statutory authority to assist the public safety community response to disasters and other emergencies. The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission establish a prioritized system of automatically waiving regulatory requirements, or of granting automatic Special Temporary Authority (STA) in certain instances, and provides a list of specific Commission requirements. We invite comment on this suggestion. Are there other areas where regulatory relief would be appropriate? Should we establish specific thresholds or requirements in the Commission's rules pertaining to demonstrations that should be made? The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission coordinate all federal outage and infrastructure reporting requirements in times of crisis. We seek comment on this recommendation and on the measures the Commission can take within its statutory authority and jurisdiction. Parties should address the appropriate content of emergency outage reports, format, frequency, distribution, and related issues. We seek comment on whether additional safeguards should be implemented to address issues concerning potential disclosure of sensitive infrastructure information or commercial information to avoid potential harm to communications providers or others. Finally, we invite comment on other steps beyond those recommended by the panel that we could take within our statutory authority and jurisdiction toimprove or strengthen network resiliency and reliability.

10. We seek comment on whether and how the Commission can assist organizations whose primary business is not communications (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, day care facilities, and so forth) with developing communications plans for an emergency. We also seek comment on whether the Commission should develop a hotline and/or Website to assist these entities.

11.Recovery Coordination.The Independent Panel observed significant challenges to maintenance and restoration of communications services after Hurricane Katrina due in part to problems with access to the affected area and key resources such as power and/or generator fuel. The Independent Panel “generally supports the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee's (NSTAC's) recommendation for a national standard for credentialing telecommunications repair workers.” The Independent Panel advocates, however, expanding the NSTAC's credentialing recommendations to include repair workers of all communications infrastructure (e.g., wireline, wireless, WISP, cable, broadcasting, satellite). The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with other appropriate Federal departments and agencies to promptly develop national credentialing requirements and guidelines to enable communications infrastructure providers and their contracted workers to access affected areas post-disaster. The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission “encourage states to develop and implement a credentialing program consistent with [the NSTAC's guidelines].” We seek comment on these recommendations, including measures the Commission can take within its statutory authority and jurisdiction. The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission work with Congress and appropriate federal departments and agencies to implement the NSTAC's recommendation that telecommunications infrastructure providers should be afforded emergency responder status under the Stafford Act and that this designation should be incorporated into the National Response Plan and state and local emergency response plans. The Independent Panel further recommends that the emergency responder designation be expanded to include all communications services providers (e.g., wireline, wireless, WISP, satellite, cable, and broadcast media) and their contract workers. The Commission seeks comment on these recommendations and on other steps we can take within our statutory authority and jurisdiction.

12. The Independent Panel makes several recommendations related to improving and enhancing communications and coordination among Federal, state, and local authorities and the private sector. In particular, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission “should encourage, but not require, each regional, state and local [Emergency Operating Center (EOC)] and the [Joint Field Office (JFO)] to engage in the following activities:

• Facilitate coordination between communications infrastructure providers and state and local emergency preparedness officials;

• Develop credentialing requirements and procedures for the purposes of allocating communications infrastructure providers (and their contractors and security teams) into disaster areas to perform repairs;

• Develop and facilitate inclusion in the state's Emergency Preparedness Plan, where appropriate, one or more clearly identified post-disaster coordination areas for communications infrastructure providers;

• Share information and coordinate resources to facilitate repair of key communications infrastructure; and

• Facilitate electric and other utilities' maintenance of priority lists for commercial power restoration.

We seek comment on these recommendations and on other measures the Commission could take within its statutory authority and jurisdiction to encourage other Federal agencies, state and local authorities, and the private sector to address the Independent Panel's recommendations in this regard.

13. In addition to recommending the Commission encourage other governmental bodies to engage in these activities, the Independent Panel notes its support for communications infrastructure providers forming an industry-only group for disaster planning, coordinating recovery efforts, and other purposes. The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission work with the National Communications System, an organization within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to broaden the membership of the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications (NCC) to include representation of all types of communications systems, including broadcast, cable, satellite, and other new technologies. We seek comment on these recommendations, including how the Commission can work within its statutory authority and jurisdiction to promote greater membership in the DHS's National Communications System coordination body. We seek comment on how the Commission could best work within its own jurisdiction and statutory authority to assist in promoting extensive, cross-jurisdictional coordination. We also seek comment generally on how we can better facilitate coordination during times of crisis.

14. The Independent Panel also recommended that the Commission work with the DHS's National Communications System to promote the use of existing priority communications services, such as Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Wireless Priority Service (WPS), and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP). In particular, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with the DHS's National Communications System to promote WPS, GETS and TSP to all eligible government, public safety, and critical industry groups. We seek comment on how the Commission can address these recommendations within its statutory authority and jurisdiction. Finally, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission create two Web sites identifying: (1) The key state emergency management contacts and post-disaster staging areas for communications providers; and (2) contact information for the Commission's Task Force that coordinates disaster response efforts and procedures for facilitating disaster response and outage recovery. We seek comment on these recommendations.

15. First Responder Communications. The Independent Panel made several recommendations intended to facilitate the restoration of public safety communications capabilities. As with other recommendations, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission encourage state and local authorities to take actions, and to assist in supporting these efforts consistent with our statutory authority and jurisdiction. For example, the Independent Panel recommended that the Commission encourage state and local jurisdictions to retain and maintain a cache of equipment components that would be needed to immediately restore existing public safety communications within hours of a disaster. Such a cache of pre-positioned equipment would include Radiofrequency (RF) gear (e.g., Internet Protocol (IP) gateways, dispatch consoles, etc), trailers, tower system components (e.g., antenna systems andhydraulic masts), back-up power equipment, and fuel. We seek comment on these recommendations. We invite parties to comment on the capabilities and content of pre-positioned equipment, as well as the functionalities most critical to support in the early stages of a crisis. The Independent Panel Report also includes recommendations intended to facilitate interoperability among first responder communications, including a recommendation that the Commission encourage the expeditious development of regional plans for the use of 700 MHz systems and move promptly to review and approve such plans. The Commission seeks comment on these recommendations, including how they should be implemented within our statutory authority and jurisdiction.

16. The Independent Panel also made recommendations intended to ensure a more robust 911 and E911 service. For example, the panel recommends that the Commission encourage the implementation of certain NRIC best practices intended to promote the reliability and resiliency of the 911 and E911 architecture. In particular, the Independent Panel recommends that service providers and network operators should consider placing and maintaining 911 circuits over diverse interoffice transport facilities and should ensure availability of emergency back-up power capabilities (located on-site, when appropriate). The Independent Panel further recommends that network operators should consider deploying dual active 911 selective router architectures as a means for eliminating single points of failure. The Independent Panel also recommends that network operators, service providers, equipment suppliers, and public safety authorities should establish alternative methods of communication for critical personnel. We seek comment on how the Commission can best encourage implementation of these recommendations consistent with our statutory authority and jurisdiction, and we welcome further suggestions on measures that could be taken to strengthen 911 and E911 infrastructure and architecture.

17. With respect to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), the Independent Panel recommends the designation of a secondary back-up PSAP that is more than 200 miles away to answer calls when the primary and secondary PSAPs are disabled. The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission work with other Federal agencies to enhance funding for 911 enhancement and interoperability. The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work to assist the emergency medical community to facilitate the resiliency and effectiveness of their emergency communications system. The Independent Panel report includes four recommendations regarding the emergency medical community, stating that the Commission should, inter alia, educate the emergency medical community about emergency communications and the various priority communications services and help to coordinate this sector's emergency communications efforts. We seek comment on how to address these recommendations consistent with our statutory authority and jurisdiction. We also invite comment on what additional steps the Commission can take within its statutory authority to assist the emergency medical community enhance its disaster response capabilities.

18. Emergency Communications to the Public. The Independent Panel report also includes recommendations intended to facilitate and complement use of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), including recommendations that the Commission educate state and local officials about the existing EAS, its benefits, and how it can be utilized. Further, the report recommends that the Commission develop a program for educating the public about EAS and promote community awareness of potential mechanisms for accessing those alerts sent during power outages or broadcast transmission failures. In order to ensure that all Americans, including persons with disabilities and persons who do not speak English, are able to receive emergency communications, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission: (1) Promptly find a mechanism to resolve any technical hurdles in the current EAS to ensure that persons with hearing or vision disabilities and persons who do not speak English have equal access to public warnings; (2) work with the various industry trade associations to create and publicize best practices for serving persons with disabilities and persons who do not speak English; and (3) encourage state and local government agencies who provide emergency information to take steps to make critical emergency information accessible to persons with disabilities and persons who do not speak English. We seek comment on how to address these recommendations consistent with our statutory authority and jurisdiction. With respect to item (1), we note that the issue is the subject of the Commission's ongoing EAS rulemaking proceeding, and we expect to address these and related issues in that proceeding.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

19. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the NPRM provided in section IV of the item. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in theFederal Register.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

20. On Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing significant damage in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The destruction to communications companies’ facilities in the region, and therefore to the services upon which citizens rely, was extraordinary. Hurricane Katrina knocked out more than three million customer phone lines in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The wireline telecommunications network sustained enormous damage—dozens of central offices and countless miles of outside plants were damaged or destroyed as a result of the hurricane or the subsequent flooding. Local wireless networks also sustained considerable damage—more than a thousand cell sites were knocked out of service by the hurricane. At the hurricane's height, more than thirty-five Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) were out of service, and some parishes in Louisiana remained without 911 or enhanced 911 (E911) service for weeks.

21. In January 2006, Chairman Kevin J. Martin established the Independent Panel pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, as amended. The mission of the Independent Panel was to review the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the telecommunications and media infrastructure in the areas affected by the hurricane. Specifically, the Independent Panel was to study the impact of Hurricane Katrina on allsectors of the telecommunications and media industries, including public safety communications. In addition, the Independent Panel was to review the sufficiency and effectiveness of the recovery effort with respect to the communications infrastructure. The Independent Panel was tasked with making recommendations to the Commission, by June 15, 2006, regarding ways to improve disaster preparedness, network reliability, and communications among first responders such as police, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel.

22. On June 12, 2006, the Independent Panel submitted its Report and Recommendations. As explained in the NPRM, Congress has charged the Commission with promoting the safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications. In this regard, we have already taken a number of steps to fulfill this mandate and we will continue to do so. The Independent Panel's report described the impact of the worst natural disaster in the Nation's history as well as the overall public and private response and recovery efforts. Our goal in this proceeding is to take the lessons learned from this disaster and build upon them to promote more effective, efficient response and recovery efforts, as well as heightened readiness and preparedness, in the future. To accomplish this goal, we invite comment on what actions the Commission can take to address the Independent Panel's recommendations.

23. As we note in the NPRM, in some cases, the Independent Panel recommends action that require the Commission to modify its rules pursuant to notice-and-comment rulemaking. In other cases, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission take actions that are not dependent upon rulemakings, such as increased outreach and education campaigns, or recommends measures that may not fall within the Commission's statutory authority and jurisdiction. In advocating implementation of the Independent Panel's recommendations, commenters should note what actions would fall within the Commission's statutory authority and jurisdiction and what the Commission could do to encourage the appropriate entities (e.g., states and local authorities) to take action.

24. To speed response efforts, the Independent Panel recommends that adoption of a proactive (rather than reactive) program for network reliability and resiliency. Specifically, the Independent Panel recommends working with industry sectors, associations and other organizations to establish a “Readiness Checklist” for the communications industry that would include developing formal business continuity plans, conducting training exercises, developing suitable plans and procedures, and maintaining pre-positioned supplies and equipment to help in disaster response. The NPRM seeks comment on these recommendations. The Independent Panel also recommends that we rely on checklists developed by industry consensus groups, such as the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) and the Media Security and Reliability Council (MSRC). The NPRM seeks comment on this recommendation, including whether we should rely on the results of voluntary consensus recommendations or instead rely on other measures. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether we should adopt guidance or criteria for developing business continuity plans, conducting exercises, developing and practicing communications plans, or routinely archiving critical system back-ups for secure off-site facilities.

25. The Independent Panel also recommends enhancing the public safety community's awareness of non-traditional emergency alternatives through community education campaigns. The NPRM seeks comment on this recommendation and other steps we can take within our jurisdiction and statutory authority to assist the public safety community in responding to disasters and other emergencies. The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission establish a prioritized system of automatically waiving regulatory requirements, or of granting automatic Special Temporary Authority (STA) in certain instances, and provides a list of specific Commission requirements. The NPRM seeks comment on this suggestion. The NPRM also seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendation that the Commission coordinate all federal outage and infrastructure reporting requirements in times of crisis. In addition, the NPRM seeks comment on other steps beyond those recommended by the Panel that the Commission could take within our statutory authority and jurisdiction to improve or strengthen network resiliency and reliability.

26. As discussed in the NPRM, the Independent Panel generally supports the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee's (NSTAC's) recommendation for a national standard for credentialing telecommunications repair workers. The Independent Panel, however, advocates expanding the NSTAC recommendations to include repair workers of all communications infrastructure. The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with other appropriate Federal departments and government agencies to promptly develop national credentialing requirements and guidelines to enable communications infrastructure providers and their contracted workers to access affected areas post-disaster. The Independent Panel also recommends that the Commission encourage states to develop and implement a credentialing program consistent with the NSTAC guidelines. The NPRM seeks comment on these recommendations as well as measures the Commission can take within its statutory authority and jurisdiction.

27. The NPRM seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendation that the Commission work with Congress and appropriate federal departments and agencies to implement the NSTAC's recommendation that telecommunications infrastructure providers should be afforded emergency responder status under the Stafford Act and that this designation should be incorporated into the National Response Plan and state and local emergency response plans. With respect to this proposal, the Independent Panel also recommends that the emergency responder designation include all types of communications services.

28. In order to enable the communications industry and state and local emergency officials to better coordinate their preparation for and response to disasters affecting communications infrastructure, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with state and local emergency officials and the communications industry to encourage the formation of coordinating and planning bodies at the state or regional level. As set forth in the NPRM, the Panel's recommendation also lists activities that the Commission should encourage each state or regional coordinating body to engage in. The NPRM seeks comment on this recommendation and on the measures the Commission could take within its statutory authority and jurisdiction to encourage other Federal agencies, state and local authorities and the private sector to address the Independent Panel's recommendations in this regard.

29. The Independent Panel recommends that the Commission work with the National Communications System (NCS) to broaden the membership of the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications to include representation from all types ofcommunications systems, including broadcast, cable, satellite, and other new technologies. The NPRM seeks comment on this recommendation, including how the Commission can work within its statutory authority and jurisdiction to promote greater membership in the DHS's National Communications System coordination body.

30. The NPRM seeks comment on several recommendations designed to facilitate the use of existing priority communications services, such as Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Wireless Priority Service (WPS) and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP), all of which are administered by DHS's National Communications System. In addition, the NPRM seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendation that the Commission create two Web sites identifying: (1) The key state emergency management contacts and post disaster staging areas for communications providers; and (2) contact information for the Commission's Task Force that coordinates disaster response efforts and procedures for facilitating disaster response and outage recovery.

31. In the NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on several recommendations intended to facilitate the restoration of public safety communications capabilities. For example, it seeks comment on the Panel's recommendation that the Commission encourage state and local jurisdictions to retain and maintain a cache of equipment components that would be needed to immediately restore existing public safety communications within hours of a disaster. The NPRM also seeks comment on a number of recommendations intended to facilitate interoperability among first responder communications, including a recommendation that the Commission encourage the expeditious development of regional plans for the use of 700 MHz systems and move promptly to review and approve such plans.

32. Regarding 911 and E911 service, the Independent Panel recommends that the Commission encourage the implementation of certain NRIC best practices intended to promote the reliability and resiliency of the 911 and E911 architecture. The Panel recommends that: (1) Service providers and network operators consider placing and maintaining 911 circuits over diverse interoffice transport facilities and should ensure availability of emergency back-up power capabilities (located on-site, when appropriate); (2) network operators consider deploying dual service 911 selective router architectures as a means for eliminating single points of failure; and (3) network operators, service providers, equipment suppliers, and public safety authorities establish alternative methods of communication for critical personnel. The NPRM seeks comment on these recommendations.

33. With respect to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), the Independent Panel recommends (1) the designation of a secondary back-up PSAP that is more than 200 miles away to answer calls when the primary and secondary PSAPs are disabled; (2) that the Commission work with other federal agencies to enhance funding for 911 enhancement and interoperability; and (3) that the Commission work to assist the emergency medical community to facilitate the resiliency and effectiveness of their emergency communications system. The NPRM seeks comment on these recommendations. In addition, the Independent Panel's Report and Recommendations includes four recommendations regarding the emergency medical community, stating that the Commission should, inter alia, educate the emergency medical community about emergency communications and the various priority communications services and help to coordinate this sector's emergency communications efforts. The NPRM seeks comment on these recommendations.

34. Finally, the NPRM seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendations that the Commission: (1) Work with various industry trade associations to create and publicize best practices for serving persons with disabilities and persons who do not speak English; and (2) encourage state and local government agencies to provide emergency information to take steps to make critical emergency information accessible to persons with disabilities and persons who do not speak English.

Legal Basis

35. Authority for the actions proposed in this NPRM may be found in sections 1, 4(i), 4(o), 201, 303(r), 403, and 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, (Act) 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(o), 303(r), 403 and 606.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which Rules Will Apply

36. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of, the number of small entities that may be affected by the rules adopted herein. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A “small business concern” is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

37. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 22.4 million small businesses, according to SBA data. A “small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of 2002, there were approximately 1.6 million small organizations. The term “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.” Census Bureau data for 2002 indicate that there were 87,525 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. We estimate that, of this total, 84,377 entities were “small governmental jurisdictions.” Thus, we estimate that most governmental jurisdictions are small.

38. Television Broadcasting. The SBA has developed a small business sized standard for television broadcasting, which consists of all such firms having $13 million or less in annual receipts. Business concerns included in this industry are those “primarily engaged in broadcasting images together with sound.” According to Commission staff review of the BIA Publications, Inc. Master Access Television Analyzer Database (BIA) on October 18, 2005, about 873 of the 1,307 commercial television stations (or about 67 percent) have revenues of $12 million or less and thus quality as small entities under the SBA definition. We note, however, that, in assessing whether a business concern qualifies as small under the above definition, business (control) affiliations must be included. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by our action, because the revenue figure on which it is based does not include or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies. There are also 2,127 low power television stations (LPTV). Given the nature of this service, we will presume that all LPTV licensees qualify as small entities under the SBA size standard.

39. Radio Stations. The proposed rules and policies potentially will apply to all AM and commercial FM radio broadcasting licensees and potential licensees. The SBA defines a radio broadcasting station that has $6.5 million or less in annual receipts as a small business. A radio broadcasting station is an establishment primarily engaged in broadcasting aural programs by radio to the public. Included in this industry are commercial, religious, educational, and other radio stations. Radio broadcasting stations which primarily are engaged in radio broadcasting and which produce radio program materials are similarly included. However, radio stations that are separate establishments and are primarily engaged in producing radio program material are classified under another NAICS number. According to Commission staff review of BIA Publications, Inc. Master Access Radio Analyzer Database on March 31, 2005, about 10,840 (95%) of 11,410 commercial radio stations have revenue of $6 million or less. We note, however, that many radio stations are affiliated with much larger corporations having much higher revenue. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by our action.

40. Cable and Other Program Distribution. The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged as third-party distribution systems for broadcast programming. The establishments of this industry deliver visual, aural, or textual programming received from cable networks, local television stations, or radio networks to consumers via cable or direct-to-home satellite systems on a subscription or fee basis. These establishments do not generally originate programming material.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Cable and Other Program Distribution, which is: all such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 1,191 firms in this category that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,087 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25 million. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.

41. Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has also developed its own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a “small cable company” is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 7,208 systems nationwide, 6,139 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 379 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size standard, most cable systems are small.

42. Cable System Operators. The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, also contains a size standard for small cable system operators, which is “a cable operator that, directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed $250,000,000.” The Commission has determined that an operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but ten are small under this size standard. We note that the Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million, and therefore we are unable to estimate more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size standard.

43. Multipoint Distribution Systems. The established rules apply to Multipoint Distribution Systems (MDS) operated as part of a wireless cable system. The Commission has defined “small entity” for purposes of the auction of MDS frequencies as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross annual revenues that are not more than $40 million for the preceding three calendar years. This definition of small entity in the context of MDS auctions has been approved by the SBA. The Commission completed its MDS auction in March 1996 for authorizations in 493 basic trading areas. Of 67 winning bidders, 61 qualified as small entities. At this time, we estimate that of the 61 small business MDS auction winners, 48 remain small business licensees.

44. MDS also includes licensees of stations authorized prior to the auction. As noted above, the SBA has developed a definition of small entities for pay television services, cable and other subscription programming, which includes all such companies generating $13.5 million or less in annual receipts. This definition includes MDS and thus applies to MDS licensees that did not participate in the MDS auction. Information available to us indicates that there are approximately 392 incumbent MDS licensees that do not generate revenue in excess of $11 million annually. Therefore, we estimate that there are at least 440 (392 pre-auction plus 48 auction licensees) small MDS providers as defined by the SBA and the Commission's auction rules which may be affected by the rules adopted herein.

45. Instructional Television Fixed Service. The established rules would also apply to Instructional Television Fixed Service (ITFS) facilities operated as part of a wireless cable system. The SBA definition of small entities for pay television services also appears to apply to ITFS. There are presently 2,032 ITFS licensees. All but 100 of these licenses are held by educational institutions. Educational institutions are included in the definition of a small business. However, we do not collect annual revenue data for ITFS licensees, and are not able to ascertain how many of the 100 non-educational licensees would be categorized as small under the SBA definition. Thus, we tentatively conclude that at least 1,932 are small businesses and may be affected by the established rules.

46. Wireless Service Providers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for wireless small businesses within the two separate categories of Paging and Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications. Under both SBA categories, a wireless business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,012 companies reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless service. Of these 1,012 companies, an estimated 829 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 183 have more than 1,500 employees. This SBA size standard also applies to wireless telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications services, and specialized mobile radio telephony carriers. According to the data, 437 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless telephony. We have estimated that 260 of these are small businesses under the SBA small business size standard.

47. Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband personal communications services (PCS) spectrum is divided into six frequency blocks designated Athrough F, and the Commission has held auctions for each block. The Commission has created a small business size standard for Blocks C and F as an entity that has average gross revenues of less than $40 million in the three previous calendar years. For Block F, an additional small business size standard for “very small business” was added and is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. These small business size standards, in the context of broadband PCS auctions, have been approved by the SBA. No small businesses within the SBA-approved small business size standards bid successfully for licenses in Blocks A and B. There were 90 winning bidders that qualified as small entities in the Block C auctions. A total of 93 “small” and “very small” business bidders won approximately 40 percent of the 1,479 licenses for Blocks D, E, and F. On March 23, 1999, the Commission reauctioned 155 C, D, E, and F Block licenses; there were 113 small business winning bidders. On January 26, 2001, the Commission completed the auction of 422 C and F Broadband PCS licenses in Auction No. 35. Of the 35 winning bidders in this auction, 29 qualified as “small” or “very small” businesses. Subsequent events, concerning Auction 35, including judicial and agency determinations, resulted in a total of 163 C and F Block licenses being available for grant.

48. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (Incumbent LECs). We have included small incumbent local exchange carriers in this present IRFA analysis. As noted above, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and “is not dominant in its field of operation.” The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any such dominance is not “national” in scope. We have therefore included small incumbent local exchange carriers in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,303 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of incumbent local exchange services. Of these 1,303 carriers, an estimated 1,020 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 283 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by our proposed rules.

49. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (Competitive LECs), Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and “Other Local Service Providers.” Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for these service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 769 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of either competitive access provider services or competitive local exchange carrier services. Of these 769 carriers, an estimated 676 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 93 have more than 1,500 employees. In addition, 12 carriers have reported that they are “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and all 12 are estimated to have 1.500 or fewer employees. In addition, 39 carriers have reported that they are “Other Local Service Providers.” Of the 39, an estimated 38 have 1,500 or fewer employees and one has more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers, “Shared-Tenant Service Providers,” and “Other Local Service Providers” are small entities that may be affected by our proposed rules.

50. Satellite Telecommunications and Other Telecommunications. There is no small business size standard developed specifically for providers of satellite service. The appropriate size standards under SBA rules are for the two broad census categories of “Satellite Telecommunications” and “Other Telecommunications.” Under both categories, such a business is small if it has $13.5 million or less in average annual receipts.

51. The first category of Satellite Telecommunications “comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing point-to-point telecommunications services to other establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.” For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were a total of 371 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 307 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 26 firms had receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999. Consequently, we estimate that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by our action.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

52. This NPRM contains proposals that may result in specific reporting or recordkeeping requirements. The NPRM seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendation that the Commission coordinate all federal outage and infrastructure reporting requirements in times of crisis. Specifically, the NPRM seeks comment on the appropriate content of emergency outage reports, format, frequency, distribution and related issues. The NPRM requests suggestions on the appropriate content of emergency outage reports, format, frequency, distribution and related issues. The NPRM also seeks comment on the Independent Panel's recommendation that the Commission establish a “Readiness Checklist” for the communications industry that would include, inter alia, developing formal business continuity plans. The NPRM requests comment on the appropriate breadth of business continuity plans as well as whether the Commission should adopt guidance or criteria for the elements that would comprise the Readiness Checklist.

Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

53. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in developing its approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): “(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemptionfrom coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.” We invite comment on whether small entities should be subject to different requirements if we adopt rules to promote more effective, efficient response and recovery efforts, and whether differentiating such requirements based on the size of the entities is warranted. For example, should there be timing differences for requirements imposed on small entities? Should small entities be subject to different continuity of operations requirements?

Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules

54. None.

Ex Parte Rules

These matters shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the presentations and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence description of the views and arguments presented is generally required. Other requirements pertaining to oral and written presentations are set forth in § 1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules.

Ordering Clauses

55. It is ordered, that pursuant to sections 1, 4(i) and (o), 201, 303(r), 403, and 706 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i) and (o), 201, 303(r), 403, and 606, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Is hereby Adopted.

56. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, Shall Send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Council for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Federal Communications Commission. William F. Caton, Deputy Secretary. Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks Report and Recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission June 12, 2006. TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY INTRODUCTION I. Panel Formation and Charge II. Process and Activities of the Panel PANEL OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THE IMPACT OF HURRICANE KATRINA ON THE COMMUNICATIONS SECTOR AND THE SUFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE RECOVERY EFFORT I. Network Reliability and Resiliency A. Effect of Hurricane Katrina on Various Types of Communications Networks B. Major Problems Identified Following Katrina II. Recovery Coordination and Procedures A. Access to the Affected Area and Key Resources B. Coordination Between Industry and Government C. Emergency Communications Services and Programs III. First Responder Communications A. Lack of Advanced Planning for Massive System Failures B. Lack of Interoperability C. PSAP Rerouting D. Emergency Medical Communications IV. Emergency Communications to the Public A. Lack of Activation B. Limitations on Coverage C. Reaching Persons With Disabilities and Non-English Speaking Americans D. Inconsistent or Incorrect Emergency Information RECOMMENDATIONS CONCLUSION APPENDIX A: Members of the Independent Panel EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks (“Katrina Panel” or “Panel”) hereby submits its report to the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”). The Panel is charged with studying the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the telecommunications and media infrastructure in the areas affected by the hurricane and making recommendations for improving disaster preparedness, network reliability and communications among first responders.

FINDINGS

Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on the Gulf Coast region, including its communications networks. The sheer force of this deadly hurricane and the extensive flooding from the breached levees in New Orleans severely tested the reliability and resiliency of the communications infrastructure in the area. Indeed, every sector of the communications industry was impacted by the storm. The Panel observed that most of the region's communications infrastructure fared fairly well through the storm's extreme wind and rain, with the coastal areas suffering the worst damage. However, the unique conditions in Katrina's