The heads of two federal agencies are asking the nation’s governors to provide necessary access and resources to communications workers during the pandemic.
Radio and TV broadcasters are among the essential entities listed. Other networks include those related to 911 calls, telehealth, distance learning and telework. (The full list is at the end of this story.)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs sent the letter, describing communications networks as “a lifeline during this challenging time.” CISA is a relatively new entity, established in 2018 and responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.
The letter asked the states to follow guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency updated earlier this month, specifically: Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and Guidelines for Executives: 911 Center Pandemic Recommendations.
Among other recommendations it also asked the governors to “consider prioritizing the distribution of personal protective equipment to communications personnel when availability permits’: to understand that communications retail customer service personnel at service centers are critical for helping customers, especially low-income families and veterans; and to facilitate maintenance and repair of communications infrastructure by providing more online access to relevant government functions such as the permit process.
Below is the list of infrastructure and entities that the FCC and CISA asked governors to treat as essential to COVID-19 response efforts:
- Businesses and personnel that provide communications support to medical and healthcare facilities, assisted care and living facilities, and people with disabilities;
- Radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) providers;
- Telecommunications relay services providers and closed captioning providers;
- Public safety communications infrastructure (e.g., land mobile radio, broadband, Wi-Fi, high frequency radio, microwave, wireline, satellite voice, video, Radio over Internet Protocol, paging, data communications systems), including infrastructure that is owned, operated or maintained by commercial service providers in support of public safety and infrastructure in support of Emergency Communications Centers;
- Internet access service providers, telephone carriers, interconnected VoIP providers, mobile wireless providers, undersea cable operators, content delivery network operators, service integrators, and equipment vendors;
- Satellite operators; and
- Companies and individuals involved in the construction of new communications facilities and deployment of new and existing technology to address unprecedented levels of customer usage and close the digital divide for Americans who are sheltering at home.