Policy Council Q&A with Chris Guttman-McCabe, Vice President for Regulatory Affairs at CTIA, on Emergency Preparedness
Policy Council: What has changed in the wireless industry with regard to emergency preparedness and disaster response over the past five years since 9/11?
Mr. Guttman-McCabe: Certainly the events of that day emphasized how important it is to have emergency preparedness and disaster response plans in place. Individually, wireless service providers have carefully developed and tested plans that are versatile in nature and designed to respond to many types of disasters. Carriers are constantly evaluating, analyzing, and refining their response plans, and it’s been through experiences such as 9/11 and most recently Hurricane Katrina, that the wireless community has learned even more about disaster response. We’ve taken the lessons from those incidents and retooled our plans for future emergencies. For example, since Katrina, wireless service providers have added and enhanced cell sites, stockpiled additional portable generators, added more COWS (Cellular on Wheels) and COLTS (Cellular on Light Trucks) to provide temporary coverage, among other things.
Another important step the industry has taken with regard to emergency preparedness is agreeing to a Voluntary Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Program. CTIA and wireless companies came together and drew up a list of standard “best practices” that pulled together the strengths of individual company plans to create one standard framework to keep service up and running in times of crisis. This program identifies key criteria for companies to be sufficiently prepared for challenging times. It’s up to the companies to submit documentation that they’re meeting all of the criteria so that CTIA can review their plans.
Policy Council: Elaborate on that a bit, if you will. What kinds of things are covered in this Business Continuity Program? What are some of the critical areas of need?
Mr. Guttman-McCabe: The Voluntary Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Program includes ten areas of concern for carriers, and I’ll just touch on a few of them to give you an idea of what’s covered. One area we look at is Project Initiation and Management. That’s where companies must demonstrate that they have defined objectives, structure and management, and a developed project plan and budget. We also deal with Risk Evaluation and Control. Carriers have to show that they have identified risks, events, and external surroundings that could adversely affect their customers, their networks and their service. They also have to evaluate the damage that such risks could incur, and identify controls and safeguards to prevent potential losses.