Earlier this month, the FCC announced that its 2022 911 Reliability Certification System is now open for Covered 911 Service Providers to file annual reliability certifications. The filings are due on October 17, 2022. Failure to submit the certification may result in FCC enforcement action.

Background

In 2013, the FCC adopted rules aimed at improving the reliability and redundancy of the nation's 911 network. Those rules require Covered 911 Service Providers ("C9SP") to take steps that promote reliable 911 service with respect to three network elements: circuit auditing, central-office backup power, and diverse network monitoring. The Commission identified these three network elements as vulnerabilities following a derecho storm in 2012 that significantly impacted 911 service along the eastern seaboard.

Applicability. The rules apply to all C9SPs, which are defined as any entity that provides 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities such as call routing, automatic location information (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), or the functional equivalent of those capabilities, directly to a public safety answering point (PSAP).

Certification. The rules require C9SPs to certify annually that they have met the FCC's safe harbor provisions for each of these elements or have taken reasonable alternative measures in lieu of those safe harbor protections. The certification must be made under penalty of perjury by a corporate officer with supervisory and budgetary authority over network operations.

In 2018 and 2020, the FCC sought comment on changes to the 911 reliability certification rules, but the rules have not yet been updated as a result of those proceedings.

Enforcement Against Noncompliant Providers

Last year, the FCC entered into eight consent decrees with Covered 911 Service Providers that failed to submit their reliability certifications in 2019, 2020, or both. A Consent Decree typically requires the recipient to admit it violated an FCC rule, pay a fine to the federal government, and implement a Compliance Plan to guard against future rule violations. These Compliance Plans required the C9SPs to designate a compliance officer, establish new operating procedures, and develop and distribute a compliance manual to all employees.

Additionally, the providers were required to establish and implement a compliance training program, file periodic compliance reports with the FCC detailing the steps the provider has taken to comply with the 911 rules, and report any noncompliance with 911 rules within 15 days of discovering such noncompliance.

Looking Forward

C9SPs have about one month to confirm compliance with the reliability rules and submit a required certification. Based on the FCC's enforcement efforts last year, C9SPs would be well-advised to work diligently to meet this upcoming deadline.

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