Transportation and Telecommunications

911 outage reporting, hearing requirements proposed

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard testimony Feb. 20 on a bill intended to help state regulators investigate 911 service system outages.

Sen. Wendy DeBoer
Sen. Wendy DeBoer

Under LB1256, introduced by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, a communications service provider that must file reports regarding 911 service system outages with the Federal Communications Commission also would have to file copies of those reports with the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

The bill would require the PSC to hold a public hearing within 90 days of receiving a report.

DeBoer said more than three months passed between a 911 service outage in August 2023 and a related public hearing held by the PSC. Requiring service providers to submit federally required outage reports to the commission would speed up any future investigations, she said.

“Any time there is an outage,” DeBoer said, “the public deserves to know why the outage occurred, that there are plans in place to avoid an outage from occurring in the future and who is … being held responsible or accountable for the outage.”

Dan Watermeier testified in support of LB1256 on behalf of the PSC. He said the proposed requirements would make 911 outage investigations more transparent to the public, helping to alleviate any concerns about the system’s reliability.

Also in support was Buffalo County Sheriff Neil Miller, who testified on behalf of the Nebraska Sheriffs Association, Police Chiefs Association of Nebraska, Police Officers Association of Nebraska and Nebraska Association of County Officials. He said the bill would ensure a more timely and thorough review of 911 outages.

“The more information we can obtain, the quicker that it can be reviewed, the better [the] opportunity to prevent it from happening in the future,” Miller said.

Testifying in opposition to LB1256 was Jake Lestock of CTIA, a wireless communications industry trade association. He said the bill is unnecessary because it would duplicate the FCC’s “robust” 911 outage reporting requirements, raising compliance costs for wireless providers.

Lestock said state entities like the PSC already may obtain outage reports from the FCC if they meet requirements intended to prevent the release of sensitive information about wireless infrastructure.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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