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DHS enables access to critical infrastructure

As more states respond to the novel coronavirus by ordering citizens to shelter in place except for essential businesses, communications infrastructure is considered one area that is crucial to maintain.

Network traffic, including voice calls, is on the rise, as companies shift to telework, healthcare providers try to ramp up telemedicine offerings and schools move to distance learning, so communications infrastructure is considered one of the critical needs for the country — so much so, that the Federal Communications Commission has asked network service providers to commit to not cutting off service or charging for late payments, and many have done so.

The Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Agency, or CISA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, recently released guidance meant to help states states identify which sectors and business types are “essential.” That obviously includes telecom infrastructure, and such workers, according to the guidance, “have a special responsibility” to maintain normal work schedules.

The guidance says that among the telecom industry functions which are considered essential are the staffing of operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing management functions, among others.

In addition, the Wireless Infrastructure Association this week praised DHS for providing a means for wireless technicians to gain access to communications facilities so that they can be maintained.

“WIA thanks the Department of Homeland Security for expeditiously providing the Declaration of National Emergency Access Letter so that wireless technicians can access essential communications facilities. It is crucial to maintain and service broadband infrastructure during this time so that businesses can continue to operate,” said WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “This action by DHS, built upon a provision championed by WIA in the 2018 SANDy Act, provides tower owners and authorized technicians access to communications infrastructure during emergencies, making available the means necessary to ensure that our nation’s networks remain up and running at their best during this critical time.”

RCR Wireless News has reached out to WIA for additional details on the access letter and will update this story accordingly.

CISA also recently put forward an alert for companies which are moving to telework, advising them to take precautions on security and outlining some mitigation strategies for better cybersecurity.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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