Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (04/05/2017)

Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill expresses the sense of Congress that the voluntary policies outlined in the Wireless Network Resiliency Cooperative Framework should be adhered to by all parties to aid consumers, 9-1-1 professionals, first responders, and local governments in accessing communication services during times of emergency. The framework is a voluntary initiative announced by wireless providers and the CTIA after receiving recommendations from government-private sector partnerships including the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council and the CTIA's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Certification Program.

(Sec. 3) The bill requires the FCC to publish a study on the public safety benefits, technical feasibility, and cost of providing the public with emergency access to 9-1-1 services, when mobile service is unavailable during certain presidentially declared emergencies or major disasters or during gubernatorially declared emergencies, through:

  • telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points and other communications technologies operating on unlicensed spectrum, without requiring any login credentials;
  • non-telecommunications service provider-owned WiFi access points; and
  • other alternative means.

The Government Accountability Office must report on: (1) how executive departments can better ensure that essential communications services remain operational during emergencies, (2) any legislative matters Congress could consider to help promote the resiliency of essential communications services, and (3) whether a nationwide directory of points of contact among providers of essential communications services is needed to facilitate the rapid restoration of such services damaged during times of emergency.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act is amended to expand the categories of essential communications service providers that may access a disaster site to restore and repair essential services in an emergency or major disaster without being denied or impeded by a federal agency. Services to be considered essential are wireline or mobile telephone service, Internet access service, radio or television broadcasting, cable service, or direct broadcast satellite service.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must encourage the adoption of mutual aid agreements recognizing the credentials of essential service providers issued by all parties to such an agreement.

At the direction of the President, federal agencies may provide assistance essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster by allowing access to essential service providers for establishing temporary, or restoring, communications services.