The NENA Nation: Government Affairs

In today’s world, nothing means more than 9-1-1.  NENA is the Voice of 9-1-1. 

NENA’s government affairs professionals and programs help bring the issues that impact 9-1-1 to the front burner of our nation’s policymakers and leaders.  NENA’s government affairs team serves as your liaison with government and other organizations by working with Congress, the FCC, the Administration, government agencies and other like minded organizations on key issues affecting 9-1-1.

News in Washington

Join us in Washington for a dynamic two-day forum that offers the best educational sessions on the legislative process and the changing federal role of 9-1-1. Don’t miss our day trip to Capitol Hill where you will meet with your congressional representatives and discuss the most current issues facing 9-1-1 today.  Click here to get more information on this forum.


FCC Independent Panel on Hurricane Katrina Holds First Meeting

The FCC’s Independent Panel on hurricane Katrina held its first meeting on Monday, January 30. Included on the panel are several public safety representatives who addressed important 9-1-1 related issues. Overall, there was a significant emphasis on 9-1-1 issues from panel members and the panel Chair, Nancy Victory, who announced that one of three working groups will be on emergency communications which is specifically charged with addressing PSAP and 9-1-1 network issues. Click here for more information on the panel and to view FCC Commissioner remarks from the meeting.   


FCC Names Members of Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks

The FCC has released the names of the individuals that will serve as members of the Commission’s Independent Panel Reviewing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks.  The Panel will review the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the telecommunications and media infrastructure in the affected area and will make recommendations to the Commission regarding ways to improve disaster preparedness, network reliability, and communications among first responders by June 15, 2006. Click here for more information.

Copps and Tate Sworn In As FCC Commissioners

(January 3) Michael Copps and Deborah Taylor Tate were sworn in as FCC commissioners today. This is the second term for Commissioner Copps and it will run through June 30, 2010. He has been a member of the Commission since 2001. This is Deborah Tate’s first term and will run through June, 2007.  She was previously Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

Tate Press Release

Tate Press Statement

Congress Provides Funding for ENHANCE 911 Act

A House-Senate Conference Committee approved the Digital Television and Public Safety Act on 12/19 as part of the Budget Reconciliation conference report. The legislation provides $43.5 million to implement the ENHANCE 911 Act which will come from a spectrum auction to be held no later than January 28, 2008. The House voted to approve the Budget Reconciliation Conference Report (212-206) on 12/19 and the Senate passed the legislation on 12/21 (51-50). This is an important step in the right direction towards funding the ENHANCE 911 Act and NENA looks forward to working with Congress to fully fund the Act in the years preceding the 2008 spectrum auction through the traditional appropriations process.

NENA press release on legislation

Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus Urges Support for ENHANCE 911 Act Funding in Budget Conference

(December 9) The Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chairs sent a letter today to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ranking Member John Dingell (D-MI) urging them to support the $250 million that was provided in the Senate budget spending bill for the implementation of a PSAP grant program authorized by the ENHANCE 911 Act. The House budget bill did not include such funding and the E9-1-1 Caucus Co-chairs are urging that the Senate language be adopted in the final bill as it goes to conference. NENA members are encouraged to let their Congressional Representatives know that they support the request of the E9-1-1 Caucus. The letter from the co-chairs and a sample letter to send your Representative and Senators is below. 
E9-1-1 Caucus letter of support Click here



Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy Announces Her Departure From the FCC:  FCC Commissioner Abernathy announced her decision to leave the FCC. She will be leaving on December 9th. Click here to review Commissioner Abernathy’s statement.

President Announces Intention to Nominate Deborah Tate and Michael Copps as FCC Commissioners:  Deborah Tate is a Republican who has most-recently been the director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. She formerly served as an attorney and senior policy advisor to former Governor Lamar Alexander and former Governor Don Sundquist. Michael Copps has also been nominated to serve a second 5-year term. Both appointments are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation, which should face little objection. Click here to read FCC Chairman Martin’s statement on the nominations.


FCC Enforcement Bureau Outlines Requirements of November 28, 2005 Interconnected VoIP 9-1-1 Compliance Letters:  The FCC released a public notice on November 7 regarding the requirements for VoIP provider compliance letters concerning the November 28 VoIP E9-1-1 deadline. The notice indicates that VoIP providers will not be required to cut service to customers that have signed up before the 11/28 deadline and do not have an E9-1-1 solution. However, after the 11/28 deadline VoIP providers are not permitted to market or offer service to new customers in geographic areas where they can not meet current FCC requirements. Click here to view the FCC notice.

Senate Approves Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005

On Thursday, November 3, the Senate approved the 2005 Budget Reconciliation measure which included a provision to clear portions of the radio spectrum (currently used by television broadcasters) for emergency communications and commercial services.  This spectrum issue is significant, because not only will this legislation provide public safety access to 700 MHz spectrum to provide better emergency communications for first responders, with high-end broadband applications in the area of voice, video and data, but it also dedicates $250 million in spectrum auction proceeds to fund ENHANCE 911 Act grants for PSAPs.  The advancement of the Senate Reconciliation bill marks a significant victory for public safety.  The House is expected to act on a similar measure next week. Click here for more information.


Senate Commerce Committee Approves the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005

On Wednesday, November 2, the Senate Commerce Committee approved S 1063, the “IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005” which now awaits action by the full Senate.  Following the lead of the recent FCC Order, the legislation requires VoIP providers to offer E9-1-1 to their customers.  Click here for a copy of the bill. Key provisions include the following:

·         Provides states with the authority to enforce the FCC’s rules in this area and collect fees from VoIP providers

·         Provides liability protection for PSAPs, VoIP providers and users of VoIP services

·         Ensures that VoIP providers have access to E9-1-1 components and are treated in the same manner as wireless providers in seeking access to 9-1-1 components

·         Requires National 9-1-1 Implementation and Coordination Office to submit a plan to Congress on the migration towards an IP-Enabled 9-1-1 system

·         Provides explicit authority to FCC to set regulations concerning E9-1-1 for IP-enabled services    

·         Does not allow service cut-off to existing customers through 12/31/2005 as long as they have notified and received acknowledgement from those customers on service limitation, but requires VoIP providers to report on their progress to provide E9-1-1 to these customers

·         Allows FCC to grant waivers to VoIP providers who have provided notice and received acknowledgement from customers and who can demonstrate that it is not “technically or operationally feasible” to comply with FCC requirements in the given time frame.  Granting of the waiver is not mandatory and is at the discretion of the FCC

·         Prevents VoIP Providers, after 12/31/2005, from offering service to customers in areas where such providers cannot offer 9-1-1 or E9-1-1



 House Adopts Digital Television Transition Legislation

On Wednesday, October 26th the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation that will accelerate the transition to digital television by setting a firm date for that transition of December 31, 2008. In freeing the analog spectrum band, Congress is honoring its decade-old promise to give first responders 24 MHz of critically needed additional spectrum. An amendment offered by Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Anna Eshoo to provide $250 million from spectrum auction proceeds to implement the ENHANCE 911 Act, as contained in the Senate DTV Bill, was not successful. However, Chairman Joe Barton, along with fellow E9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chair Rep. John Shimkus indicated that they would work to secure E9-1-1 funding when the House and Senate meet in conference.


Committee press release on the hearing is available at:


Senate Commerce Committee Approves the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005

On Thursday, October 20th, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. The bill provides two specific dates that will strengthen public safety communications and help advance the digital television (DTV) transition. First, the Act sets a hard date for the digital transition of April 7, 2009. This hard date establishes a date certain by which public safety personnel will be able to use an additional 24 MHz of spectrum recovered from the digital transition. Second, the legislation begins the auction of recovered spectrum on January 28, 2008 and specifically sets aside $250 million of those spectrum auction proceeds to fund the ENHANCE 911 Act.  The funds wont be available until late 2008 or early 2009, but it is a significant amount of money that will soon enough be available for E9-1-1 upgrades.  NENA will continue the charge to ensure the passage of this legislation by the full Senate, as well as our efforts to obtain funding through an appropriation in this years budget.


Senate Introduces Staff Draft of “Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005”

A draft of the “Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005” is being circulated on Capitol Hill. Thanks to the leadership of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-HI), along with E9-1-1 Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), this legislation will potentially provide enough money to fully fund the ENHANCE 911 Act.  The draft bill requires the FCC to conduct a spectrum auction on January 28, 2008 which is expected to generate billions. Section 5 of the draft establishes a fund in the US Treasury called the “Digital Transition and Public Safety Fund” and states that the Secretary of Commerce or the Secretary’s designee “shall make payments from the Fund for a program to implement the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004.”  Click here to view the draft bill

Click here to read NENA letter of support for the draft bill.

NENA Encourages Congress to Keep 9-1-1 Funding in Commerce Appropriations Bill

On Thursday, October 13, NENA President David Jones sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Commerce Appropriations Subcommittees requesting that as they prepare to go to conference they keep the $5 million that is currently in the Senate bill in the final Appropriations bill.  NENA’s request is in support of an earlier request made by the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus. 

FCC Requests Comments on Wireless Carrier Phase II Waiver Requests
The FCC is requesting comments on Phase II E9-1-1 waiver requests submitted by Alltel, SprintNextel and a petition submitted jointly by CTIA and the Rural Cellular Association.  Links with information on each of these proceedings are available on the FCC web site as follows: 
Alltel Request:
Comments Due:  10/21/2005. Reply Comments Due:  10/31/2005.
SprintNextel Request
Comments Due:  10/21/2005. Reply Comments Due:  10/31/2005.
Contact:  David Siehl at (202) 418-0680

CTIA/RCA Request:

Comments Due:  10/21/2005. Reply Comments Due:  10/31/2005. 
Contact:  David Siehl at (202) 418-0680 

Congress Holds Hearings on Hurricane Katrina Interoperability and Communications Issues:  On Thursday, September 29, both the House and Senate Commerce Committees held hearings to address interoperability issues raised by hurricane Katrina.  While primarily focused on “interoperability” the importance of 9-1-1 service was discussed in both hearings.  Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), a member of the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus, said in his opening remarks, “It would be a mistake to talk about interoperability issues for first responders without also considering 9-1-1 call centers.  They are an integral part of local emergency communication systems” and also called for a hearing to specifically address the 9-1-1 system.  In the Senate hearing, pushing for a vote on the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) said that an updated IP-based 9-1-1 system “would allow emergency phone calls to be automatically rerouted from a damaged 9-1-1 call center to the next nearest call center.  Lives will be saved.”


Click here to read Rep. Gordon’s comments.

Click Here to read Senator Nelson’s comments.

Click here to view testimony from House Commerce Committee.

Click here to view testimony from Senate Commerce Committee.


House Releases Staff Discussion Draft of Telecom Reform Legislation:  House Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) released the text of a staff discussion draft of telecom reform legislation this week.  The draft includes several issues that pertain to VoIP E9-1-1 (particularly section 205), including some, but not all of the sections in the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005.  To view the staff discussion draft click here.  Please submit any comments/questions to NENA Government Affairs Director Patrick Halley.

Amendment to Commerce Appropriations Bill Approved Will Provide $5 million For PSAP Upgrades:  Thanks to the leadership of Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus co-chair Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), a floor amendment was offered and approved on Wednesday, September 14th, that will provide $5 million in grants that were authorized under the ENHANCE 911 Act. Her amendment was added to the fiscal year 2006 Appropriations Bill for the Departments of Commerce, State, and Justice.  If the amendment makes it through the conference process it will be the first federal funding specifically available for PSAPs to upgrade their technology to provide E9-1-1.  


Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus Co-chairs Request Administration Fully Fund ENHANCE 9-1-1 Act in FY 2007:  The Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus co-chairs sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 7th requesting that the Administration support the ENHANCE 911 Act and request full funding ($250 million) from Congress for FY 2007.  The letter stated that, “We feel that there is no better use of public monies than to assist first responders to save lives in every community across America.”  Click here to read the letter.

NENA President David Jones Testifies Before Congress:  On Thursday, September 1st, NENA President David Jones, ENPtestified before the Senate Commerce Committee at a field hearing in Great Falls Montana encouraging Congress to include critical 9-1-1 provisions in upcoming telecom reform legislation. Jones testified in support of the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005 (S 1063) but asked Congress to broaden the scope of the bill to cover any service that provides a communications capability in which a customer can reasonably expect to be able to reach a PSAP when dialing 9-1-1. Jones also asked Congress not to take any actions that will prevent states from imposing 9-1-1 surcharges on such services.

Click here to read the press release.
Click here to read the full testimony.


NENA Encourages Congress to Include 9-1-1 Provisions in Telecom Reform Legislation: On Monday, August 29th, NENA sent a letter to Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee encouraging congress to include key 9-1-1 provisions in upcoming telecom reform legislation.  The letter stated NENA’s support of the IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005 but asked Congress to broaden the scope of the bill to cover any service that provides a communications capability in which a customer can reasonably expect to be able to reach a PSAP when dialing 9-1-1.  Click here to read the letter.

Enhanced 9-1-1 Legislation Passes Congress:  NENA’s Never Give Up Approach Helps Pass E9-1-1 Legislation: Support for Public Safety, Life-saving Technologies and Homeland Security.  Washington, DC – Congress passes bill to boost the nations aging and fragmented 9-1-1 system.  Click here for the full press release.

Click here to view the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004.

Contact your Congressional leaders about funding the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004:  For your disposal and editing, please find a sample letter, urging Congressional support of funding the ENHANCE 911 Act.

We strongly recommend you to personalize your letter accordingly, to share your individual perspectives and needs for the federal legislation.

The following letter supporting the congressional E9-1-1 Caucus request for full funding for the ENHANCE 911 Act was submitted by NENA to the Senate and House Transportation and Commerce appropriations Subcommittees.

Letter to Senator Shelby (R-AL), Chairman, Senate Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee
Letter to Senator Bond (R-MO), Chairman, Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee