Summary

                            A bill 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.

Introduced in Senate
Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017

This bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publish a
study on the public safety benefits, technical feasibility, and cost of
providing the public with emergency access to 9-1-1 services, when mobile
service is unavailable during certain presidentially declared emergencies or
major disasters or during gubernatorially declared emergencies, through:

 * telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points and other
   communications technologies operating on unlicensed spectrum, without
   requiring any login credentials; 
 * non-telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points; and
 * other alternative means. 

 The FCC must create a master point of contact directory for effective
communications between public safety answering points and telecommunications
service providers. 

The Government Accountability Office must report on how executive departments
can better ensure that essential communications services remain operational
during emergencies.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act is amended
to expand the categories of essential communications service providers that may
access a disaster site to restore and repair essential services in an emergency
or major disaster without being denied or impeded by a federal agency. Services
to be considered essential are wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet
access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct
broadcast satellite service.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must encourage the adoption of
mutual aid agreements recognizing the credentials of essential service providers
issued by all parties to such an agreement.

At the direction of the President, federal agencies may provide assistance
essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a
major disaster by allowing access to essential service providers for
establishing temporary, or restoring, communications services.

Reported to Senate with amendment(s)
Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill expresses 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. The framework is a voluntary initiative announced by
wireless providers and the CTIA after receiving recommendations from
government-private sector partnerships including the Federal Communications
Commission's (FCC's) Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability
Council and the CTIA's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certification
Program.

(Sec. 3) The bill requires the FCC to publish a study on the public safety
benefits, technical feasibility, and cost of providing the public with emergency
access to 9-1-1 services, when mobile service is unavailable during certain
presidentially declared emergencies or major disasters or during gubernatorially
declared emergencies, through:

 * telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points and other
   communications technologies operating on unlicensed spectrum, without
   requiring any login credentials; 
 * non-telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points; and
 * other alternative means. 

The Government Accountability Office must report on: (1) how executive
departments can better ensure that essential communications services remain
operational during emergencies, (2) any legislative matters Congress could
consider to help promote the resiliency of essential communications services,
and (3) 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.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act is amended
to expand the categories of essential communications service providers that may
access a disaster site to restore and repair essential services in an emergency
or major disaster without being denied or impeded by a federal agency. Services
to be considered essential are wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet
access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct
broadcast satellite service.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must encourage the adoption of
mutual aid agreements recognizing the credentials of essential service providers
issued by all parties to such an agreement.

At the direction of the President, federal agencies may provide assistance
essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a
major disaster by allowing access to essential service providers for
establishing temporary, or restoring, communications services.



                        

Actions

  • Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 31.

    Apr 5th, 2017
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Reported by Senator Thune with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. With written report No. 115-24.

    Apr 5th, 2017
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Reported by Senator Thune with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. With written report No. 115-24.

    Apr 5th, 2017
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably.

    Jan 24th, 2017
  • Read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

    Jan 11th, 2017
  • Introduced in Senate

    Jan 11th, 2017