California Office of Emergency Services Adopts Public Outage Map Requirements, Effective October 1, 2022 | Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

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Beginning in October 2022, providers offering access to 911 service will be required to create and make available on their websites maps depicting geographic areas experiencing service outages that meet a specified reporting threshold (defined below). below). The new public outage map requirement applies to all facility-based IP telephony (VoIP), wireless and traditional providers in California.

Telecommunications Outage Reporting Requirements

In 2020, the State of California approved telecommunications outage reporting requirements promulgated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since then, all California facility-based wireline and wireless service providers that provide access to 911 service have been required to notify Cal OES when a “community isolation outage” occurs.

As we explained in a previous article, a “community isolation outage” is an event that (i) lasts at least 30 minutes, (ii) “limits the ability of end users of a telecommunications service provider make 911 calls or receive emergency notifications”. and (iii) assigns a threshold percentage of customers.

  • For wired telecommunications, VoIP, or IP service providers, the outage must affect at least 100 end users in a single postcode or at least 50% of end users in a postcode with fewer than 100 end users.
  • For portable telephone service providers, the outage must affect at least 50% of the operator’s coverage area in a single postcode.

Rules Updates

In April 2022, Cal OES noticed a regulation to update the regulations in accordance with its obligations to implement Senate Bill 341. Earlier this month, Cal OES finalized the regulations. There have been two major changes to the reporting of community isolation outages as defined above:

  • Within 60 minutes of discovering an outage, all VoIP, wireless (i.e. mobile) and wireline providers must make a map of public blackouts available on their websites identifying (i) the geographical area affected by the outage, (ii) the postal code(s) of the affected area and (iii) the type of outage. The map should be updated at least once every six hours from the most recent notification until service is restored.
  • The reporting threshold for wireless failures by mobile phone service providers is reduced from 50% to 25% of the mobile operator’s coverage area in a single postal code.

The new regulations come into force on October 1, 2022.

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