News Release

COG Strongly Supports FCC Move to Develop Mandatory Rules Governing Support for 9-1-1 Service

Jan 10, 2013

Click here for COG Steering Group's final draft report on Verizon 9-1-1 service outages March 2013 (9 MB pdf, 271 pgs)

Click here for COG Steering Group's draft report on Verizon 9-1-1 service outages November 2012 (5 MB pdf) 

Click here for FCC report on 9-1-1 service outages 

Washington, DC ---The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) strongly supports today’s  decision by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put in place mandatory rules to address the telephone company failures the Commission said led to last summer’s 9-1-1 service outages in several states, including Northern Virginia.

In a report released today, the FCC concluded that the failure of Verizon and other telephone companies to provide sufficient, dependable back-up power and their failure to adequately monitor the transmission networks serving local 9-1-1 call centers was responsible for outages following the derecho storm in June.  The report also said the telecommunications carriers had failed to adopt the voluntary actions the agency has recommended for years.

“The Council of Governments supports FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s decision to begin a formal rulemaking procedure.  While we continue to review the FCC report in detail, our member jurisdictions urge the Commission to take immediate action,” said Chuck Bean, COG’s Executive Director.

“We want the FCC to quickly put in place mandatory, specific rules governing telecommunications carriers and their support of local emergency response officials.  Given a history of widespread service outages during events like the derecho, at this stage, our region cannot be satisfied with a reliance on selective voluntary actions.  That would be too-little, too-late.”

Elected officials from Northern Virginia also expressed their support for the FCC action.

“This report validates Fairfax County's strong concerns about Verizon's performance following last year’s Derecho,” said Sharon Bulova, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and a member of the Council of Governments Board. “It is essential that public safety communications services function at the highest level without interruption. The kind of breakdown that the FCC report addresses must never happen again.”

Walter Tejada, Chairman of the Arlington County Board, and a member of the COG Board, added, “I am very pleased the FCC is launching a rulemaking without delay on the 9 -1-1 outages.  We need to prevent the kind of disruption that Arlington County experienced after the derecho last summer.”

The FCC report supported the preliminary findings and conclusions of a COG task force comprised of 9-1-1 Center Directors, as well as those of the Virginia Corporation Commission. Those findings also highlighted the loss of commercial power, the failure of back-up generators and the failure of network systems that support the 9-1-1 call centers.  And like the FCC, the two preliminary reports called for audits of the entire infrastructure and all procedures that support the 9-1-1 system.

Steven Souder, Director of Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety, its 9-1-1 Call Center, welcomed the FCC’s quick action. “A person may only need to call 9-1-1 once, but it could be the most important call of their life. 9-1-1 must be available to all residents at all times regardless of weather conditions. The inability of our residents to be able to contact 9-1-1 for emergency services is unacceptable.”

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