Mandatory Diaster Response Initiative Will Apply to all Facilities-Based Mobile Wireless Providers

In order to improve the reliability and resiliency of mobile wireless networks during disasters and emergencies, last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Report and Order adopting requirements for a Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative (MDRI).1

Once the requirements become effective, the MDRI will apply to all facilities-based mobile wireless providers, regardless of their size. The Report and Order mandates that by the compliance date, each provider enter into bilateral roaming agreements with other facilities-based wireless providers from which it may foreseeably request roaming privileges, or that may foreseeably request roaming privileges from it, during a disaster scenario. To this end, each provider must implement bilateral testing of its roaming capabilities and related coordination processes by the compliance date, and annually thereafter.

Additionally, each facilities-based wireless provider also must enter into mutual aid arrangements with other facilities-based mobile wireless providers from which it may request, or receive a request, for aid during an emergency. Providers also must work generally to enhance municipal preparedness and restoration, increase consumer readiness and preparation, and improve public awareness and stakeholder communications on service and restoration status.

As per the Report and Order, the compliance date will be the later of 30 days after the FCC issues a Public Notice announcing that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed review of any new information collection requirements, or June 30, 2023 for small facilities-based mobile wireless providers. On April 12, 2023, the FCC published a notice that it had submitted the Report and Order to OMB for its review, so this review may be completed in the coming months. However, on October 31, 2022, CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association filed a Petition for Clarification and Partial Reconsideration of the FCC’s Report and Order requesting that the compliance deadlines be extended. The FCC has not yet ruled on that Petition.

Please contact Greg Whiteaker at [email protected] or Shannon Forchheimer at [email protected] if you would like to discuss more details about the MDRI requirements.
[1] Resilient Networks; Amendments to Part 4 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning Disruptions to Communications; New Part 4 of the Commission’s Rules Concerning Disruptions to Communications, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 22-50 (rel. July 6, 2022).

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